Doctoral degree student awarded scholarship by national soil society

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A graduate student in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recently was named the recipient of a scholarship from the Soil Science Society of America.

Mara Cloutier, a doctoral degree candidate in the soil science and biogeochemistry dual-title degree program, was selected to receive the 2018 Clark Soil Biology Graduate Student Scholarship. She will be recognized for earning the $3,000 award in a ceremony during the group's annual meeting on Jan. 7, 2019, in San Diego. 

A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Cloutier began her doctoral degree program in 2016 at Penn State, where she is advised by Mary Ann Bruns, associate professor of soil microbiology in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Cloutier received her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and her master's degree from Appalachian State University. 

The society cited Cloutier's passion for serving her college and local community and her mentorship to five undergraduate students during their independent research projects, two of whom have gone on to pursue their master's degrees.

"Additionally, Mara Cloutier has worked to establish professional groups and organize meetings to better serve her fellow graduate students and department," the society stated in a news release announcing the award. "She has also used her passion for outreach to create and organize events locally to teach people of all ages about the importance of soil microorganisms."

Cloutier engages enthusiastically with anyone who wants to learn about life in the soil, said Bruns.

"She takes every opportunity to help others discover soils, whether it is at a 4-H event, a field day or environmental celebration," Bruns said. "I have been deeply impressed with her drive to seize opportunities to learn, lead, help and grow."

The Clark Soil Biology Graduate Student Scholarship was established by the Soil Science Society of America to recognize the importance of soil biology and the understanding of soil, plant and microbial interactions, and of nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems.

Last Updated June 08, 2018