St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf alumna awarded prestigious Luce Foundation fellowship

Corey Ruder ’16 holds a drill used to take permafrost cores while conducting fieldwork last summer in Siberia.

The Luce Foundation has awarded recent St. Olaf College graduate Corey Ruder ’16 a prestigious fellowship that will enable her to continue her work in aquatic biogeochemistry in Asia.

The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program. It was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society.

Ruder, who majored in environmental studies at St. Olaf, is one of 18 students selected as a 2017 Luce Scholar. She is currently studying the effects of internal waves on nitrogen cycling in reservoirs through a Ph.D. program at Washington State University Vancouver.

“I’m optimistic that this year in Asia will contribute to my dissertation research at Washington State, and I am most excited to be completely immersed in a new culture,” says Ruder. She hopes to continue her research at Lake Biwa in Japan and become fluent in Japanese, including the technical vocabulary she’ll need working in a laboratory setting

As a senior at St. Olaf, Ruder received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. NSF Graduate Research Fellowships support the most promising graduate students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Ruder had a number of hands-on learning experiences at St. Olaf that prepared her for the graduate work she’s now doing.

Corey Ruder ’16 takes a dissolved gas sample from lake water for analysis of greenhouse gases during fieldwork in her last semester at St. Olaf.

As a Beckman Scholar at St. Olaf, Ruder independently designed an 18-month research project assessing the utility of Chironomidae (Diptera) as indicators of nitrogen loading in lakes under the guidance of Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Charles Umbanhowar Jr.

She also studied abroad in Australia for a semester with Associate Professor of Biology Steve Freedberg, where she was involved in several smaller research projects, and spent two Interims in Japan — one with Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak and the other with Associate Professor of Chemistry Paul Jackson ’92. Both of these faculty members worked with the Luce Foundation and helped Ruder apply for the scholars program.

Ruder traveled with St. Olaf Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies John Schade to Siberia last summer as part of the Polaris Project, which investigates the impacts of global climate change in the Arctic ecosystem.

In addition to her research projects, Ruder received the Finstad Entrepreneurial Grant from the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career during her first year on campus and co-founded the Ole Thrift Shop LLC with Lyla Amini ’14 and Sudip Bhandari ’14. The student-run small business combats campus waste by collecting donations of clothes, books, and miscellaneous belongings in the spring, then selling the secondhand items during the first week of the following school year.

From study abroad programs to research projects, Ruder’s experiences have prepared her for the work she’ll do through the Luce Scholarship program. “I very much consider this an opportunity that St. Olaf made possible,” says Ruder.