BATON ROUGE, La. (BRProud) –Ria Salway is studying biological sciences with a concentration in marine biology at the LSU College of Science.

At the beginning of the fall semester, she saw an opportunity to apply for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships awarded to undergraduates in marine sciences.

She says it was a months long process and didn’t want to get her hopes up.

“I tried not to think about it too much. I was just like I’m not going to know. I remember that morning I was waiting, stalking my email, waiting for it to come in.”

When she got the news, she actually got the scholarship, she was over the moon.

“I was really excited. I immediately emailed back because you have to accept it. I rushed to email it, but make it sound professional even though I wanted to respond right away.”

As a freshman, she helped make a documentary about the CMA CGM Group nurdle spill that took place in New Orleans in August 2020, a project that aligns with one of NOAA’s broader focuses on fostering healthy ecosystems in the ocean.

Salway is currently working on an interdisciplinary project with another student on Louisiana’s infamous “Cancer Alley.” The finished product will be a documentary to raise awareness of the issue via film festivals, a screening at LSU, and by providing it for use in classrooms around Louisiana.

“It’s basically about scientific communication, cancer alley and miscommunication. There’s a lot of false beliefs that people have about cancer alley. We wanted to dispel some of the myths by talking to scientists.”

She’s also been awarded an internship with NOAA that’ll begin next summer and looks forward to a new challenge and wants to encourage others to go after what they want.

“Just do it even if you don’t think you’ll get it. Just do things you want to do and find a way to do them.”

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