July 23, 2004

Three students win prestigious Morris Fellowships

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Three academic achievers have won $15,000 Morris Fellowships and free tuition awards for doctoral study at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Kenna C. Bolton, a native of Omaha, Neb., will enroll in psychology; Tamira K. Brennan, a native of Lafayette, Ind., will enroll in anthropology; and Cy L. Mott, a native of Berwick, Pa., will enroll in zoology.

Morris Fellowships support students who demonstrate the potential for conducting significant academic research based on high overall grade-point averages and their scores on national standardized tests. Ranked among the nation's largest graduate grants, these fellowships are renewable for up to two years. SIUC's Graduate School awards the fellowships, which honor the late Delyte W. Morris, head of the University from 1948 to 1970, and his widow, Dorothy.

• Bolton graduated this spring from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., with a bachelor's in psychology. As an undergraduate, she served as a research assistant in three separate studies; worked at a women's center, a group home and a mental health clinic; and volunteered as a "big sister" and as a sexual violence peer educator.

Bolton's research interests focus on antisocial personalities, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. She hopes to conduct research, supervise clinical graduate students and teach when she finishes her doctorate.

•Brennan earned her bachelor's in anthropology in 2002 from the University of Illinois. Following her graduation, she worked as a crew chief for the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program, a joint effort by UI and the state transportation department to preserve Illinois' historical and archaeological artifacts.

Brennan is particularly interested in the Mississippian culture, whose temple mound builders flourished in the Missouri, Ohio and Illinois river valleys 1,000 years ago. She will focus on social interactions between sites with complex chiefdoms and between the chiefdoms themselves, using analyses of stone, pottery and animal remnants as research tools. She hopes to work in cultural resource management upon finishing her degree.

• Mott earned his bachelor's in biology in 2001 from East Stroudsburg University in East Stroudsburg, Pa., and his master's in biology this spring from Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa.

As an undergraduate, Mott conducted research on community ecology and predator-prey relationships in larval salamanders. As a graduate student, he will focus on conservation biology, ecology and tropical reptiles (such as turtles, snakes and lizards) and amphibians (such as frogs, toads and salamanders). He is particularly interested in the effect of human influences on the ecology of such creatures. He hopes to teach and conduct research at a university after completing his doctorate.

Recruiting and retaining a diverse group of the best students for graduate and professional programs are among the goals ofSouthern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.