Seven students have the honor of being named the first-ever Benjamin M. Statler Scholars in Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University. The group, made up of six undergraduates and one graduate student, will receive scholarship and research support from funding that was part of the historic $34 million gift made by Statler and his wife, Jo, earlier this year.

Three freshmen—Jessica Griffith and Andrew Maloney of Morgantown, and Ryan Gellner of Glen Dale—have been named Statler Undergraduate Scholars. The $3,000 per year scholarship is renewable for up to four years. Each was also named a Bucklew Scholar earlier this year.

Three seniors were named Statler Undergraduate Research Scholars. The winners were selected based upon the quality of their proposed research projects. Each student will receive a one-time scholarship award of $3,000, plus $2,000 in research support.

Zachary Cesa, from Mt. Morris, Pa., who is majoring in petroleum and natural gas engineering, will analyze the production performance of multiple fractured horizontal wells in the Marcellus shale to determine long-term production performance. Morgantown native Anna McClung, a chemical engineering major, will focus on energy-related technologies through research involving direct carbon fuel cells. McClung spent the summer working on the project and will complete her senior thesis using this research. Civil and environmental engineering major Ye Tao of China is hoping to produce a new type of concrete, which will incorporate the use of sticky rice, resulting in a material that is more energy conservative and environmentally friendly.

Matthew Thompson, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemical Engineering, is the inaugural recipient of the Statler Ph.D. Fellowship. Thompson’s research centers on the polymer industry, one of the largest industries worldwide and one that has a large presence in West Virginia. His research is aimed at improving the impact strength of polymers, such as polypropylene, so that they do not shatter easily. This is done by mixing with the polypropylene another polypropylene of a different molecular structure, using a process that is very energy intensive. Shale gas is likely to become a much lower cost raw material for making both these plastics. Thompson is developing a new process for polymer blending that uses much less energy.

Thompson, a native of Franklin, who earned his undergraduate degree at WVU in 2011, will receive a $5,000 per year stipend as well as $8,000 per year for research-related supplies, equipment and travel.



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CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon