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05-13-2017

Clarkson University Senior Amy Hait Receives Frederica Clarkson Award

Graduating senior Amy C. Hait of West Oneonta, N.Y., received the Frederica Clarkson Award during Clarkson University’s 124th commencement ceremony on May 13. She was selected for the $1,000 award by a vote of the full University faculty based on her scholarship and promise of outstanding achievement.

FredericaThe award was established in 1921 as a bequest in the will of Frederica Clarkson, sister of Thomas S. Clarkson, for whom the University is named. This award and the Levinus Clarkson Award are traditionally given to the two top students in the graduating class.

Hait, a member of the Honors Program, received a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering. She was a presidential scholar for seven semesters at Clarkson and graduated with a 3.99 GPA.

Hait began her association with Clarkson University the summer after graduating from Oneonta High School. She researched the threatened species golden-winged warblers and their habitat under Professor / Chair of Biology Tom Langen. Using land cover data in geographic information systems software and sighting locations from a population count, she was able to correlate habitat characteristics with where the birds were found.

After her first year at Clarkson, Hait interned through the New York State Pollution Prevention Program at Chobani. There, she worked on waste minimization at the onsite wastewater treatment plant. She presented a biodiesel feasibility study that created alternative fuel from yogurt waste.

In the summer of 2015, Hait interned with Delaware Engineering, a civil and environmental consulting firm. She worked on assessing and designing drinking water distribution systems, as well as wastewater treatment plants, and wrote grants for municipal projects.

Hait was selected in the fall of 2015 to be a fellow of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a research fellowship granted for junior and senior years of study. As part of this fellowship, Hait conducted research on several topics. In her sophomore year she conducted research pertaining to the on-campus food waste anaerobic digester under the direction of Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Stefan Grimberg. The research involved removing and recovering ammonia, which inhibits energy production in the digester, but is an essential component in the fertilizer output of the system. Hait helped to prepare an EPA People, Prosperity, and Plant (P3) grant for the project, and she participated in a capstone class on the research project.

Also as part of the fellowship, Hait spent the summer of 2016 at the EPA National Risk Management Research Laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a research assistant under Nick Dugan and Darren Lytle. There, she studied cyanotoxins that are released during harmful algal blooms (HAB) in freshwater bodies. As a method for tracking toxin concentration through potential treatment technologies, Hait used fluorescence to measure cyanotoxins. Her largest contribution was creating a method for matching excitation-emission matrices to corresponding photopigments in the cyanobacteria to measure their concentration in the sample.

Hait participated in Clarkson's Adirondack Semester in the fall of 2016, an immersive program of classes combined with an integrated research project during which students live within the Adirondacks. With a group of nine other students and mentoring from Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Andrea Ferro, she examined the environmental, economic, and social impacts of wood burning in the Adirondack Park. Various technology and policy solutions were assessed to improve the practice of wood combustion. As part of the student research group, Hait presented this work at the Research Symposium for Understanding and Reducing Residential Wood Combustion Emissions in Albany, N.Y.

In Hait's most recent research, she completed a life cycle assessment of feminine hygiene products. As her Honors Program thesis, this work investigated the environmental and human health impacts of menstrual products. The impacts of disposable and reusable alternative products were compared. Mentored by Interim Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment / Associate Director of Sustainability / Jean '79 and Robert '79 Spence Professorship in Sustainable Environmental Systems Susan Powers, Hait was honored for her oral presentation at the Research and Project Showcase (RAPS) conference held at Clarkson as well as best poster at the Joint Conference of the Central New York chapters of the Air & Waste Management Association and American Industrial Hygiene Association in Syracuse, N.Y.

Hait’s attraction to Clarkson began in her senior year at Oneonta High School when she received the Clarkson University Leadership Award for her contributions to her high school's organizations. Since arriving at Clarkson, Hait has been granted several additional awards, including the Keith M. Russ Award for outstanding performance and service to the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department in her junior year as well as the Charles Martin Clark Memorial Prize in her senior year.

Outside of the Clarkson curriculum and research, Hait was involved in several extracurricular organizations and professional societies. She was the president and student coach of the Women's Rugby Team as well as the secretary of Clarkson's chapter of New York Water and Environment Association (NYWEA) and co-president of Knitting for the Needy. Hait was a member of Tau Chi Alpha, the environmental engineering honors society, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Society, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Alongside these activities, she mentored incoming first-year students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering through the CU-Connect program and in the Honors Program through mentoring. She tutored students in thermodynamics through the Clarkson Tutoring Center for two semesters. Hait also served as a representative on the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Student Advisory Council.

Following commencement, Hait has accepted a position with Barton and Loguidice. She will be an environmental engineer in their water and wastewater group and will work out of their Albany, N.Y. office. 

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University President Tony Collins (left) and University Trustee Dr. Bayard D. Clarkson Sr. present the Frederica Clarkson Award to Amy Hait.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/frederica-2017.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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