DURHAM, N.C. – The Nicholas School of the Environment and the Duke University Marine Lab recognized four outstanding graduating seniors with special awards today during the school’s “Marking the Moment” virtual acknowledgment event for undergraduates.
The event was part of a two-day virtual celebration held in place of on-campus graduation ceremonies this year due to COVID-19.
Margaret Overton of Nashville, Tenn., received the Sara LaBoskey Award, which is presented annually to a graduating senior in recognition of personal integrity and academic excellence.
Overton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Science & Policy with a Certificate in Corporate Sustainability, and Graduation with Distinction honors.
Her senior thesis focused on the influence and leadership of women in the environmental movement, which she embodied during her student career as president of the Duke Undergraduate Environmental Union and director of environmental affairs for Duke Student Government. She also served as vice president of Alpha Phi Omega, Duke’s only co-ed service fraternity, and as a member of the Campus Sustainability Committee, the Energy Initiative Student Advisory Committee, and HackDuke, a social justice-minded computer science society.
Jennifer Marsh of Fargo, N.D., received the Thomas V. Laska Memorial Award, which is presented annually in recognition of the most outstanding achievement by a graduating senior in Earth and Ocean Sciences.
Marsh earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth and Ocean Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies with a Chinese concentration, as well as Graduation with Distinction honors.
Her senior thesis focused on the formation of chromite seams through reactive volatile fluid infiltration, a topic that reflected her interest and expertise in field geology, geological mapping and igneous petrology. Outside the classroom, she worked as a reporter for the Duke Chronicle student newspaper, covering health and environmental news.
D’amy Steward of Coronado, Calif., received the Marine Science + Conservation Award, presented annually by the faculty of the Duke Marine Lab to an outstanding student in recognition of excellence in scholarship, research and citizenship.
Steward earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Environmental Sciences, with concentrations in ecology and marine science and conservation. She also earned Graduation with Distinction honors and was a Rachel Carson Scholar.
Her senior thesis focused on quantifying the benthic footprint of artificial reefs along the U.S. continental shelf, a topic that ties into her work as a Hollings Scholar at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where she is working to map all artificial reefs off the southeastern coast and find ways to measure their productivity and inform their future management. In 2016, she founded Ocean Steward, a nonprofit ocean conservation and outreach organization.
Alexandra DiGiacomo of Ridgefield, Conn., received the Maggie Schneider Award in Marine Biology, presented annually by the Duke Department of Biology to a graduating senior selected by the Duke Marine Lab faculty in recognition of a demonstrated love of learning and service in marine and conservation biology.
DiGiacomo earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and was a Rachel Carson Scholar and Angier B. Duke Memorial Scholar.
She conducted undergraduate research at the Duke Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Laboratory using drones to study the distribution and density of coastal sharks in the nearshore waters of North Carolina. Outside the classroom and lab, she volunteered with the Marine Lab’s Community Science outreach program to teach local K-12 students about the marine environment and served as president of the Sustainable Oceans Alliance Mission.