Biology, Environmental Studies Major Becomes UM’s 41st Udall Scholar

April 20, 2017

University of Montana President Sheila Stearns and College of Humanities and Sciences Dean Chris Comer inform student Rachel Dickson during one of her classes that she’s received a 2017 Udall Scholarship.

MISSOULA – University of Montana student Rachel Dickson recently won a 2017 Udall Scholarship, which will provide up to $7,000 to support her studies for the next academic year. Dickson is the University’s 41st Udall Scholar, and UM continues to lead the nation in winning these prestigious awards.  

UM junior Cassidy White also earned an Honorable Mention in this year’s competition.

Udall Scholars are selected on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment or, for Native Americans, commitment to careers in tribal public policy or health care. Scholars also must show leadership potential and academic achievement.           

Dickson, a junior from Missoula, is pursuing a double-major in environmental studies and biology with a concentration in organismal biology and ecology. She is the daughter of Mary and Dave Dickson of Missoula and graduated from Big Sky High School in 2013. Dickson, who also earned a Goldwater Scholarship in 2015, plans to earn a doctorate and teach and research in the field of ecology.

“In the future, I hope to combat climate-driven food insecurity through applied ecology,” Dickson said. “The Goldwater Scholarship allowed me to spend eight months in Argentina studying impacts of an invasive bumblebee on a native plant-pollinator mutualism. The Udall funding will allow me to continue my research and outreach interests internationally.”

UM junior Cassidy WhiteWhite, a junior from North Branch, Minnesota, also double-majors in environmental studies and biology with a concentration in organismal biology and ecology, with minors in climate change studies and ecological restoration. She is the daughter of Dawn and John White and a 2014 graduate of North Branch Area High School. She plans to attain a master’s degree in limnology, studying how climate change affects the stability and the movement of molecules through aquatic systems. She hopes to pursue a career informing environmental policy as a research scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The 2017 Udall Scholars will assemble Aug. 8-13 in Tucson, Arizona, to meet one another and program alumni, learn more about the Udall legacy of public service, and interact with community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care and governance.

For more information on the Udall Foundation and related programs, visit

Contact: Laure Pengelly Drake, UM coordinator for Writing Center programs, external scholarships and advising, 406-243-6140,