Graduate student Eric Howell received the Robin J. Copeland Scholarship for his international work and his work in science.

This is a scholarship fund established by Copeland’s who was a U.S. diplomat who served in both the Soviet Union and the U.S. and was very accomplished and energetic, said Ron Chesser, a professor in biological sciences and director of the Center for Environmental Radiation Studies.

Copeland was fluent in seven languages.

“The scholarship is through Texas Tech University is to award an outstanding student that is working in science and international diplomacy,” Chesser said.

Copeland was big on using science for diplomatic relations in different countries. The West Texas native did worked in Middle East, Chesser said.

She passed away in October 2011 and her family established a memorial fund in her memory with contributions given from around the globe. Howell is the first recipient of the award.

“Texas Tech wants to recognize academic qualities that form the foundation for leadership,” Chancellor Kent Hance said in a news release. “This scholarship is a way to honor students with talent and ambition like Robin’s, and I believe Eric is an outstanding candidate to honor her memory.”

Howell has worked in Ukraine to train Iraqi scientists on methods of radiation detection and health assessments, Chesser said. He has also traveled to Iraq to assist in dismantling former nuclear facilities and has made a total of 10 different trips since 2008.

Most recently Howell spent a one-year internship in Vienna, Austria, to direct the technical sessions on dismantlement’s of Iraq’s nuclear facilities and now is back to finish his doctoral degree in biological sciences at Tech, Chesser said.

“It’s an honor to receive this award, and it could not have been possible without these great once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that have been extended to me by my peers and colleagues,” Howell said in the release. “I hope that my accomplishments both at Texas Tech and the International Atomic Energy Agency can bring honor not only to my university but to the name of Robin J. Copeland.”

Howell had to apply for the scholarship and competition for the scholarship with many other students, however, Chesser said Howell was an easy candidate for the award.

The scholarship is for an entire year’s tuition and fees and from there Howell will look to finish getting his doctoral degree and then looking for a job in the field, Chesser said.

“What an outstanding young student he has been,” Chesser said. “He has really made a huge effort to involve himself in not only good science but also using that science as a diplomatic tool in a variety of nations.”

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