A triple major in Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology, Ecology, Evolution, & Biodiversity, and Program in the Environment, sophomore Elizabeth Tolrud is U-M's 6th Udall Scholar since the program was established in 1992. Honoring the legacy of U.S. Representative Morris Udall and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, the Udall Scholarship provides $7,000 to college sophomores and juniors with strong records of leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.
Elizabeth is an Undergraduate Researcher in the Colacino Lab, assisting on a project that analyzes the impact of lead on epigenetic regulation during neural differentiation. She is Co-President of the Citizens' Climate Lobby and Founding Member and Representative of the Student Carbon Neutrality Network. Elizabeth is also an End the Cycle tutor for K-12 students and has advanced environmental education programs for elementary students.
Her current plan for her Honors thesis is to study how pesticides affect epigenetic regulation during neural differentiation through in-vitro studies with neuroblastoma cells.
Elizabeth applied for the Udall Scholarship because she was seeking a guided experience that would allow her to reflect on her educational and professional goals. Her hope was that the application process could help her better figure out how to merge her diverse array of interests to better prepare her for her future career. She plans to pursue a PhD in Ecotoxicology and hopes to work as an ecotoxicologist for a federal government agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency or as a faculty member at an academic institution.
When asked what advice she would give to future applicants, Elizabeth states, "This application process has helped me deeply reflect on my personal interests and become more thoughtful about the areas of my life that provide the most joy and passion for me. I realized that I can realistically incorporate all my interests into one career, and I found models to help direct my future career. To future applicants, I would emphasize that the process is truly worth the work of the application, regardless of the scholarship decision. Whether or not a person becomes a nominee or finalist, it is an invaluable experience to be guided through reflecting on undergraduate experiences, deciding specific career goals, and planning how to achieve these goals. This helps gain an important perspective on what is truly important in an undergraduate experience."
Elizabeth is incredibly inspired by the Udall legacy and is ecstatic to become a part of the amazing Udall Foundation community.