Dominion Scholars Study To Build a Greener Future

Dominion Scholars Study To Build a Greener Future


SUNY Cortland junior Taylor Salsburg of Victor, N.Y., has big dreams about a future in environmental geoscience.

“I want to use the skills I have learned to take on ‘big picture’ environmental problems, which will make it easier for the general public to understand our serious environmental issues,” said Salsburg, a geology major with a concentration in environmental science.

He and another geology major, senior Amie Whitlock of Cortland, N.Y., are getting an affordable college education in the form of an ongoing partnership between the department and a Virginia-based energy company, Dominion Resources (Dominion).

The company awards a scholarship to help undergraduate geology majors pursue research and careers in the environmental geosciences. This year, Salsburg and Whitlock are the 2011 scholarship recipients.

A Dominion Scholarship has given generations of SUNY Cortland students an incentive to pursue the major and begin research by defraying their college costs.

“The scholarship has encouraged me to continue to improve my education here at SUNY Cortland,” said Salsburg. “It also allows me to dedicate more time to my schoolwork, instead of spending that time working.”                 

“Receiving a Dominion Scholarship has had a great impact on my success at SUNY Cortland,” said Whitlock, also a geology major with a concentration in environmental science. “It has taken a little bit of the financial pressure off, but has also given me a chance to do things I wouldn’t have had the chance to do otherwise.

“I have been working with our structural geology professor, Dr. Gayle Gleason, on an experimental study of reactivated shear zones,” said Whitlock.

The scholarship arrangement, which was started in 2002 by SUNY Cortland graduate Kevin Zink ’77, gives the College annual funding to support the $1,000 per semester scholarship, available to recipients for up to six semesters. Zink directs the Northeastern area operations at Dominion Transmission, Inc., one of the nation’s largest producers of energy. Scholarships are arranged through Dominion’s foundation.

The Dominion Scholarship is awarded each year to an academically outstanding sophomore, junior or senior geology major, who is interested in the environmental geosciences or is doing related research projects.

To date, 17 students have benefited from this corporate generosity and the company has awarded a total of $45,000 in scholarships to students at the College.

Zink visited the campus during Fall 2010 to present the latest check to Robert Darling, professor and chair of the Geology Department, and meet the most recent Dominion Scholars.

A 2008 Victor High School graduate, Salsburg was involved with environmental research, joined the Environmental Club and was inducted into the Honor Society.

At SUNY Cortland, he is involved with the geology club, club lacrosse, volunteer efforts at the community bike shop and has earned a GPA worthy of the Dean’s List for two semesters.

Geology Department
The two Dominion Scholars, Taylor Salsburg and Amie Whitlock, shown center left to right, met with Dominion Resources, Inc., representative Kevin Zink ’77, right, and Geology Department chair Robert Darling, left.

Salsburg currently works on a project with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Geography Department, using geographic information systems technology to map where certain species live in each town of New York state.

“I want to take my geographic information systems skills and apply them to the environmental field,” said Salsburg. “I also am very interested in the hydraulic fracturing field and would like to learn more about the effort to make extracting domestic energy safe and free of environmental impacts.”

As a senior at Homer Senior High School, Whitlock participated in the New Visions of Environmental Science Careers vocational program.

She transferred from Tompkins-Cortland Community College (TC3) with an Associate of Science in Biotechnology. While at TC3, she was president and founder of Students Acting for a Greener Earth (SAGE).

At SUNY Cortland, Whitlock is an active member in the geology club and is involved in various environmental projects around campus.

The scholarship has given her the opportunity to explore a long list of environmental issues affecting New York state and the rest of the world, she said.

“I am ultimately looking to pursue a career in research,” said Whitlock. “My ideal position would be as a professor at a research university.”