ADA – Growing up near the Chickasaw National Park in Sulphur, only piqued the interest and love of science for East Central University junior Linzi Thompson.
Thompson spent her summers working in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, gaining an appreciation for nature and the environment, as well as working with animals.
Her zest has led to pursuing a career in the environmental health science field and recently achieving a prestigious national award.
As a double major in environmental health science and chemistry with a minor in cartography, Thompson was one of only three students, from across the United States, who was recently selected for a Women of Color STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Conference Student Leadership in Research Award in Dallas.
Thompson, who is of Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, knew she was going to be a scientist at a young age, but didn’t realize until later what direction she wanted to go in the field.
“It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do, but I had a great interest in environmental health science and chemistry,” she said.
Thompson credits her parents with developing her love of science. Her mother, Lisa, has a degree in civil engineering, and her father, Dennis, has always been involved with the outdoors and wildlife.
Thompson’s passion is learning about environmental issues around the world and plans to pursue master and doctorate degrees.
“I would like to work on water problems in other countries and focus on the chemicals which might cause illness in drinking water,” said Thompson. “I don’t like the fact that people can get life-threatening diseases from drinking the water that we can’t survive without.
“I chose to become an environmental health scientist so that I could protect human lives. While nursing and medical students save lives after people have been harmed, I chose to follow a career in environmental health science so that I may find and remove these hazards at their source, thus preventing damages such as illness and cancers from occurring. I feel that everyone deserves drinkable water, breathable air and a safe, worry-free environment.”
Thompson is ECU’s OK-LSAMP (Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) grant recipient for independent research. She is also a NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program recipient.
Through sponsorship with these two programs, Thompson and ECU Professor of Environmental Health Science Dr. Guy Sewell have been involved in a research titled “Column Study of Bio-electric Remediation of Nitrate and Perchlorate in Groundwater Systems”.
This research project was recently presented at Oklahoma State University’s OK-LSAMP Research Day and will be presented at the Oklahoma Academy of Science Technical Meeting later this month, as well as at Research Day at the State Capitol in April, 2014. Thompson was nominated for the research day presentation by Dr. Bruce Weems, dean of ECU’s college of health and sciences.
“This award is a great honor for Linzi and for ECU. Linzi is an excellent student and has a strong commitment to her education and research projects,” said Sewell. “She has a keen interest in environmental processes which will serve her as a researcher. She is a pleasure to work with and sets a very high standard for her fellow students.”
Thompson has also co-authored an EPA article in the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) Journal called “Corrosion in USTs: What Causes It and What Can Be Done About It?” (2013, Volume 7, issue 3, third quarter 2013, pages 26-34). This research was also presented at the National Tanks Conference in Denver in September.
Her past research projects include “Hypoxic Air in Caves of the Arbuckle Mountains of South Central Oklahoma” while working with Stacy Blackwood in Nov., 2012. The project was sponsored by the Arbuckle Karst Conservancy and presented at the Oklahoma Academy of Science Technical Meeting.
She has also done voluntary research with the Arbuckle Mountains Grotto to study the region’s karst aquifer system (Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer) and has worked through ECU as an Environmental Research Apprenticeship Program student worker at the EPA’s Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center in Ada since April, 2012.
On ECU’s campus, Thompson is current president of the Environmental Health Science Club and Society of Wildlife and Ecological Biologists and is current secretary of the Chemistry Club and vice president of the Rotaract Club (Collegiate Rotary).
She also serves as an American Red Cross disaster representative for South Central Oklahoma since April, 2012 and has completed over 60 volunteer hours with the Rotaract Club since January, 2013.