Three accomplished high school seniors awarded 2021 Suomi Scholarship

July 7, 2021 | Callyn Bloch
The “father of satellite meteorology,” Professor Verner E. Suomi, was passionate about teaching undergraduate students. Credit: UW-Madison

This year, three exemplary high school seniors were awarded the UW–Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies Verner E. Suomi Scholarship for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“All three students share a passion for the earth sciences and solving real problems that face our planet,” says Tristan L’Ecuyer, Director of CIMSS and Chair of the Suomi Scholarship Committee. “They embrace the convictions of the next generation of change-makers to not only understand the physical environment but to use this knowledge to improve quality of life for all including those most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.”

Emily Sautebin

Credit: Emily Sautebin

High school senior Emily Sautebin has always been fascinated with the environment. A passion that extends beyond school, she received a sponsorship to attend the World Affairs Seminar and placed first in a Science Olympiad competition. Emily discovered she wanted to pursue a career in environmental sciences during an Advanced Placement Environmental Science trip to a local park in her hometown, Marshfield, Wisconsin. “My class spent the day testing the quality of the Yellow River, and I realized that I could see myself doing that kind of work for the rest of my life,” Emily explained. This fall, she will attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison in hopes of becoming an environmental consultant or hydrologist after graduation. “Whether I am collecting samples in the field or contributing to important conversations about the environment, I want my work to make a difference,” she says.

Hollyn Gaffner

Credit: Hollyn Gaffner

Hollyn Gaffner from Aledo, Texas is planning to major in environmental sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Madison to create change. “I hope to make a positive and lasting impact on people’s lives,” Hollyn says, “and I am determined and driven to achieve my goals.” Throughout her high school career, Hollyn excelled in AP physics courses and because of her in-depth understanding, was selected to be a teacher’s aid for a physics class. She is recognized as a Rural and Small Town National Merit Scholar and a College Board AP Scholar with Honor Recognition. Outside of class, she volunteers as a tutor and participates in her high school theater program. As she looks ahead to career paths, Hollyn is considering becoming a renewable energy research scientist, an environmental lawyer or policymaker to help make a change at the governmental level.

Ikhbayar Khurelbaatar

Credit: Ikhbayar Khurelbaatar

Ikhbayar Khurelbaatar noticed the effects of climate change and pollution in his city, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and he decided to make a documentary to shed light on the issue. “The cameras revealed so much about inequality and the human factors of pollution,” he explains. In addition to working on his documentary, Ikhbayar continues to spread awareness of the societal impacts of climate change through his blog. He has excelled in courses and has competed in many International Science Olympiad events. Ikhbayar is passionate about studying environmental science, and green energy specifically, to help populations that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. To achieve these goals, he will pursue environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison this fall. While on campus, Ikhbayar plans to join the UW–Madison Chapter of Engineers Without Boarders.

Each year, the $2,000 Verner E. Suomi Scholarship is awarded to high school seniors who plan to attend a University of Wisconsin System school and major in the physical sciences. The scholarship is named after the “father of satellite meteorology,” Professor Suomi, who was passionate about teaching undergraduate students. Scholarship recipients demonstrate outstanding performance in the physical sciences through school and extracurricular achievements.