VERMILLION, S.D. – Brigit Blote, a sophomore sustainability major in the University of South Dakota College of Arts & Sciences, has been selected as a Udall Scholar by the Udall Foundation in Arizona.
The Rapid City native is one of more than 50 students across the U.S. awarded the prestigious scholarship, given to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.
“I took the environmental route,” Blote said of her application for the scholarship. “I talked about pursuing a career in textile innovation, particularly with an environmental focus. I want to play a role in mitigating textile waste, and I’m interested in the science behind making new textiles from old textiles and creating a circular economy that eliminates waste.”
The Udall Foundation will award Blote up to $7,000 for her junior year at USD. This is the 10th time a USD student has been named a Udall Scholar.
The young scholar has had a successful sophomore year working on projects related to textile science and reducing waste in the fashion industry. In addition to the Udall Scholarship, Blote is part of a three-person team that earned first place in one of 21 regional contests for the international Hult Prize competition, which challenges college students to develop for-profit businesses that benefit the planet. Blote’s team will further develop their business idea—a mobile app that compiles search results from numerous online clothing thrift stores—at a business accelerator this summer. Six teams from the accelerator will then compete in September for the final award of $1 million in start-up funds.
Blote also earned a John Carlson Research Grant from the USD College of Arts & Sciences for a summer research project involving textiles. Working with USD Beacom School of Business instructor Greg Bertsch, who earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from USD in 2017, Blote plans to spend this summer improving the ability of surgical face masks to fight virus and bacterial infection by coating the mask’s textile with a chemical that can kill microbes on contact.
Other extracurricular activities include a spot on the USD Track and Field team and a position as a violist in the USD Symphony Orchestra.
Meghann Jarchow, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of sustainability & environment, has worked with Blote in class and as an advisor to the Hult Prize competition. “Brigit has a passion for sustainable fashion, and she continues to do an amazing job of creating opportunities for herself to directly engage in making the world a better place,” Jarchow said. “I have worked with Brigit through her ongoing—and successful—Hult Prize competition efforts, and I continue to be impressed by her creativity, work ethic, and passion for sustainability.”