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The Ogden Honors College Nominates Students for Udall Scholarship

Four LSU students will compete for the prestigious scholarship

The LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College has nominated four Ogden Honors College students for the prestigious Udall Scholarship. Brandon Champagne, a native of Youngsville, La.; Amanda Fontenot, a native of Houston, Texas; Madeline LeBlanc, a native of Sunshine, La.; and Madelyn Smith, a native of Lafayette, La., will compete with students from universities across the country for the chance to be named a 2017 Udall Scholar. Students must be selected through an internal competition at LSU in order to compete for the scholarship.

“Our four nominees this year are passionate about protecting the Louisiana coast, and they have engaged in meaningful service, research, and activism,” said Drew Lamonica Arms, director of the Ogden Honors Office of Fellowship Advising.   “Selection as a Udall Scholar is a fantastic opportunity to expand their understanding of environmental issues through interaction with the Udall Foundation, its mission, and its cohort of Scholars from around the country.”

The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment. In 2017, the Udall Foundation anticipates awarding 60 scholarships of up to $7,000 each.

Brandon Champagne is an Ogden Honors College junior majoring in coastal Brandon Champagneenvironmental science and a Louisiana Service and Leadership (LASAL) Scholar. In his application, Champagne stated that his roots in Louisiana bayou country inspired him to be a part of the solution to coastal land loss. 

“Being from the bayous of Louisiana, I’ve come to know the marshes and swamps as a beautiful, but changing, tapestry,” Champagne said. “Each year, Louisiana loses roughly 16 square miles of wetland. For a myriad of reasons ranging from reduction of river sediment to dredging of canals, the marshes that gave me memories like catching my first fish are almost underwater. Projects such as river diversions and marsh creation could build sustainable land for decades. I aspire to be a part of these projects and part of the generation to combat coastal erosion.”

After graduation, Champagne plans to pursue a Ph.D. in marine science in the Netherlands. He would like to conduct hydrologic research that can be directly applied to restoring ecosystems where people are most at risk for flooding.

Amanda Fontenot is an Ogden Honors College junior majoring in coastal environmentalAmanda Fontenot science. In her application, Fontenot wrote about the pressing need to protect our oceans.

“Our oceans and coastal waters are some of the most prolific environments on Earth and provide us with an abundance of services,” she said. “However, these are also some of the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet. Their protection and sustainable management would be the most important task I hope to undertake.”

After graduation, Fontenot plans to pursue a master’s in oceanography, environmental science, or coastal zone management. She plans to apply her research to public policy and to advise sustainable solutions to regional and national environmental issues.

Madeline LeBlanc is an Ogden Honors College junior studying chemistry and coastal Madeline LeBlancenvironmental science and is a LASAL Scholar. In her application, LeBlanc wrote about her opportunity as an undergraduate at LSU to contribute to important research in her field.

“Louisiana’s unique coastal wetlands receive 90 percent of U.S. land loss, and, with over two million residents in coastal parishes, it is the hub of coastal distress and research,” LeBlanc said. “With a project through Sea Grant, I study the elemental makeup of wetland sediment core samples to analyze the behavior of wetlands based on their age. I conduct research in the Wetland Biogeochemistry Analytical lab, examining the chemical makeup of sediment cores.”

LeBlanc spent last spring studying abroad with researchers in Grenoble, France, and in May she will represent the LSU School of Coast and the Environment in Concepcion, Chile.  After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s and Ph.D. in chemical oceanography and coastal sciences in the Netherlands or another location affected by coastal land loss, where she hopes to continue her international research on Louisiana issues, develop new mitigation techniques and conduct research through international collaboration.

Madelyn Smith is a sophomore majoring in natural resource ecology and management andMadelyn Smith is a LASAL Scholar. In her application, Smith wrote about her goal to help guide the development of the Coastal Master Plan, a document published every five years detailing the Louisiana’s approach to mitigating land loss.

“The Coastal Master Plan is produced by analyzing combinations of projects, modeled within financial and geological constraints, that may result in the least net land loss,” Smith said. “I want to consider local input in deciding which projects best serve Louisiana.”

Smith used funding from the Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors Leaders Award to create a book, Louisiana Gone, which documents the sociocultural effects of wetland loss through interviews and portraits of Louisiana coastal natives.   After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s in environmental management. She hopes to one day develop policy initiatives in Louisiana and at the federal level.

About the Office of Fellowship Advising

The Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising advises current students and recent graduates from all colleges at LSU as they apply for prestigious national and international fellowships. Students interested in applying for a Udall Scholarship may contact Drew Lamonica Arms, director of the Office of Fellowship Advising, at

About the Udall Foundation

The Udall Foundation was established by the U.S. Congress in 1992 as an independent executive branch agency to honor Morris K. Udall's lasting impact on this nation's environment, public lands, and natural resources, and his support of the rights and self-governance of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The 1998 Environmental Policy and Conflict Resolution Act created the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution as a program of the Udall Foundation to assist parties in resolving environmental, public lands, and natural resources conflicts nationwide that involve federal agencies or interests. In 2009, Congress enacted legislation to honor Stewart L. Udall and add his name to the Udall Foundation.

About the Ogden Honors College

The Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Ogden Honors College provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.