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K-State Today

May 13, 2021

Two Kansas State University students earn honorable mention for Udall Scholarship

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Lydia Waner, left, and Brett LaFleur have earned an honorable mention in the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Scholarship competition.

Lydia Waner, junior in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, biology and Spanish, Wichita; and Brett LaFleur, junior in interior design, Omaha, Nebraska, have earned an honorable mention in the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Scholarship competition.

The Udall scholarship is worth up to $7,000 and is awarded to sophomore- or junior-level students seeking a career related to the environment or to Native American or Native Alaskan students seeking a career related to health care or tribal policy. This year, 55 students from 42 colleges and universities were selected as Udall scholars. The 20-member independent review committee also awarded 55 honorable mentions. The awardees were selected from a pool of 416 candidates nominated by 187 colleges and universities.

As an undergraduate student with plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in research, the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research has prepared Waner for her future. Waner's primary research experience has been in the lab of Thomas Mueller, where she has worked as a research assistant since her freshman year, studying gene expression patterns of the brain in zebrafish. 

Waner is president of the student chapter of the Wildlife Society, secretary of the College of Arts and Sciences Ambassadors and member of the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows. She recently received the Division of Biology Most Promising Student Award, Blue Key Walter Memorial Scott Scholarship and a Johnson Cancer Research Award. Waner also serves as Mutual Aid MHK coordinator and Spanish translator, and Via Christi volunteer. A graduate of Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School, Waner is the daughter of Craig and Christy Waner, Wichita. 

Interested in incorporating sustainability in architecture, LaFleur is researching cooperative housing for low-income older adults and avenues to integrate principles of the WELL Building program and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification program. LaFleur says he wants to use these programs to improve the health and well-being of residents, the community and natural environment.

LaFleur serves as president for the student chapter of the United States Green Building Council. LaFleur won first place for his sustainable design project at the ATID Symposium for first and second years, was voted outstanding first-year student by interior design professors, received the Ellithorpe Research Scholarship and semester honors for spring 2019. He is the third-year class representative for the class of 2022, and a member of Phi Eta Sigma honor society and Kappa Omicron Nu honor society. A graduate of Elkhorn High School, LaFleur is the son of Daryle and Rhonda LaFleur, Omaha.

Established by Congress in 1992, the Udall Foundation awards scholarships, fellowships and internships to students pursuing careers in fields related to the environment and to Native Americans and Alaska Natives in fields related to health care and tribal public policy; supports the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and the Native Nations Institute; and provides assessment, mediation, training and other related services through the John S. McCain III National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution.

K-State students interested in applying for the Udall Scholarship next year are encouraged to contact Jim Hohenbary, director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships, at jimlth@k-state.edu