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Savanah Leidholt earns the Harriet "Hattie" Redmond Award

Savanah Leidholt earns the Harriet "Hattie" Redmond Award

A student creates fish ink prints at the Pernot Microbiology Camp.

A student creates fish ink prints at the Pernot Microbiology Camp.

Savanah Leidholt, a microbiology doctoral student in her fourth year under Rebecca Vega-Thurber, has earned an award for her work creating and organizing the Pernot Microbiology Camp, a free STEM summer camp for high school students from underrepresented backgrounds. She received the award at the Breaking Barriers annual awards dinner, which is hosted by the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, the Office of Institutional Diversity and OSU Athletics.

The award goes to OSU community members who create positive progress and change in pursuit of racial justice and gender equity.

The camp focuses on teaching students "college-level lab techniques and career pathways" in the field of microbiology and STEM in general, inspiring curiosity and interest through field trips and lab experiments.

A collection of fish ink prints.
Volunteer Mackenzie Kawahara speaks with a student.

Volunteers worked together to promote the event, provide scholarships, and fund transportation for students.

About why she created the camp, Leidholt said: “As a Hispanic woman who grew up in rural Montana, I can attest firsthand to the lack of STEM opportunities available for these demographics."

"I think it’s really important for them to see people who look like them in their field, and know that they’re not going to be alone if they do try."

A portrait photo of Savanah Leidholt.

Leidholt earned the award for her work in providing underrepresented populations the opportunity to learn about the fields of microbiology and STEM.

Molly Rosbach with Life at OSU had this to say about Leidholt and the summer camp:

"The camp also focused on building confidence and a sense of belonging: Leidholt’s goals were to create something she herself would have loved to attend as a kid, and to let students see people who look like them succeeding in STEM fields. Leidholt worked closely with Vega-Thurber to make the camp accessible by providing scholarships to most attendees as well as covering the cost of transportation and other aspects that might otherwise keep low-income students from attending. They are currently working with the microbiology department to secure funding that will help turn the camp into a sustainable annual program."

Students learn how to make kombucha.

Students learn how to make kombucha.

Find out more about Pernot Microbiology Camp here.

Original Article by Molly Rosbach here.

Photo credit to Maia Insinga, Oregon State Productions