Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program

Doris Duke Group researching Bog Turtles

Doris Duke Scholars Program

Ready to be a conservation change-maker?

If you are a current freshman or sophomore at NC State with an interest in the environment and a commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion, the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program may be for you!

Email Dr. Zakiya Leggett for more details about the program and how to apply.

The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDCSP) is an exciting opportunity for undergraduates at NC State with a demonstrated interest in environmental issues and cultural diversity to receive training, support, mentorship and about $10,000 for two years of paid research experiences and internships.

Hands-on experiences include opportunities across the U.S. and the world with DDCSP partners like the USGS Cooperative Research Units; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; the Ecological Society of America; and other federal, local, state, and tribal agencies and conservation-oriented non-governmental organizations. Research and internship experiences provide meaningful educational, mentoring, and networking opportunities to participating students.

Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and housed at the University of Florida, the DDCSP is a collaboration between the University of Florida, University of Idaho, University of Arizona, Cornell University and NC State, through each university’s affiliated cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units.

Apply now

2020-2021 Scholars


Reese Dorroh

Reese Dorroh is a sophomore majoring in Fisheries, Wildlife and
Conservation Biology with a concentration in Conservation Biology. She is
from Virginia Beach and living on the coast helped instill in her a passion
for wildlife, the environment and the preservation of both. Growing up she
volunteered at the Virginia Aquarium where her favorite exhibit to work was
the stingray tank because she got to interact directly with the animals.
During a summer abroad in Italy her junior year of high school, Reese got
to volunteer with Lampedusa Turtle Rescue and realized that working to
conserve wildlife was what she wanted to spend the rest of her life doing.
She chose the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program because of its
emphasis on diversity, inclusion and hands-on learning. Reese is passionate
about the conservation and rehabilitation of endangered species and hopes
to one day find a career that allows her to focus on both.


Nina Esquerdo

Nina Esquerdo is majoring in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
with a concentration on wildlife. Living in North Carolina all her life
brought her close to nature and the environment. It wasn’t until she began
volunteering at a local aquarium that her passion for wildlife and
conservation began to flourish. Soon after, Nina also began to volunteer at
a wildlife rehabilitation center. Here she realized the strong impacts
humans have on animals, whether it be bad or good. Coming to this
realization, she decided she wanted to make a difference in wildlife
conservation. Nina hopes to one day contribute to scientific research as a
wildlife biologist to create a positive impact on the environment. Not only
that, but Nina also hopes to encourage diversity in the science community.
Being a young Hispanic woman, Nina hopes to encourage more people from
different backgrounds, races, and ethnicities to be more comfortable and
confident in entering environmental and conservation related fields.


EmmaLee Hovander

EmmaLee Hovander is majoring in zoology with a veterinary medicine intent.
Growing up, she admired and discovered that she wanted to emulate her aunt,
a practice-owning veterinarian. EmmaLee is from Greensboro, North Carolina,
where she has volunteered with the SPCA of the Triad and has worked at an
animal hospital. During the school months in Raleigh, she works for an
ecology lab at NCSU. While she pursues veterinary education, EmmaLee is
interested in learning as much about the world around her as possible. She
wants to make an impact on the world as she learns more about it. EmmaLee
also loves interdisciplinary fields and has a strong interest in the arts
and literature— which she hopes to incorporate in her future career.


Jaren Baluyot

Jaren Baluyot is studying fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology
with a concentration in conservation biology. He was raised in Annapolis,
Maryland, where most of his childhood was spent outdoors near the
Chesapeake Bay. After taking a zoology class in high school, he realized
his passion for wildlife. Jaren chose to attend NC State in order to move
out of his comfort zone and grow as an individual. Through clubs and
opportunities on campus, he found interest in volunteering and working with
others. During a study abroad in the United Kingdom, he hiked Snowdonia
National Park which strengthened his love for the environment. He was drawn
towards the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program because of its
dedication to diversity, inclusion, and hands-on learning. Jaren believes
that protecting the environment can serve as a common goal for bringing
diverse people together. He enjoys challenging himself and aspires to
become a phenomenal leader who will make a positive difference in the

2019-2020 Scholars

Jared Lamb

Jared Lamb

Jared Lamb is a junior studying fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology with a concentration in wildlife. Born in a small rural town in North Carolina, he developed a close relationship to nature. Ever since Jared was little, he knew he wanted to work with wildlife, and with NC State being the only university in North Carolina with a wildlife program, he knew exactly where he wanted to go as well. At NC State, he is involved in the Leopold Wildlife Club and is on the bass fishing team. He, one day, hopes to work for a state wildlife service or the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

Mya Wilson

Mya Wilson

Mya Wilson grew up in a rural community in Granville County, North Carolina, which is where her appreciation for the environment began. As a child, she loved spending countless hours outside catching insects and other invertebrates. Her most prized possession was a bug catcher her mother bought her from a book fair. Although science was always a passion of hers, she was inspiration by her father, who has close to 20 years of experience in the environmental field, and decided to major in environmental sciences. Her father loves his career and frequently shares his passion with others. Just like him, she wants to be passionate about her work so that she can inspire others to find something they love and make a change in the world.

aaron scholar

Aaron Durham

Aaron Durham is a junior majoring in environmental science with a concentration in water quality. Even though he has spent the majority of his life in North Carolina, Aaron was born in Nevada and has fond memories of life out West. His goal is to be able to get back to his roots and gain experience working with conservationists along the west coast. His time studying at NC State has shown him the importance of conservation and why it is increasingly necessary in today's world. Hoping to increase his knowledge and interact with people and environments unfamiliar to him, Aaron joined the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program and has found exactly what he was looking for. After graduation, he plans to get a job using his major and work to reverse the degradation of the world's water.

Shannon Dolan

Shannon Dolan

Shannon Dolan is studying environmental science with a minor in marine science. She spent the last two summers working at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as a member of the Diadromous Fish Division. Through this experience, she discovered that she is passionate about environmental conservation research because it combines science with the opportunity to make a difference within her community. At NC State, she is a member of the Environmental Student Association and a volunteer at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. She was attracted to the Doris Duke program because of its focus on increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. As a Doris Duke scholar, she is excited to collaborate with her peers, build her network of environmental professionals, and learn methods for conducting and presenting environmental research. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in a marine or fisheries related field.

2018-2019 Scholars


Tasha Scarlett

Tasha Scarlett is studying Animal Science with minors in Wildlife Science and Zoology. Born into a military family, she has lived in a variety of places. Since the age of seven, helping animals has been her primary passion. During her freshman year of college, she discovered a love for conservation and habitat restoration. After being inspired by fellow Doris Duke Conservation Scholars and guest speakers, she now plans to combine her two passions to pursue a career in conservation medicine. It’s her hope to eventually start her own non-profit to help expand restoration efforts worldwide.


Sasha Pereira

Sasha Pereira is majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Computer Programming. Originally from Charlotte, NC, Sasha took an Environmental Science class in high school where she discovered the significance of protecting natural resources. At NC State, she joined a variety of clubs and organizations that inspired her passion for volunteering, outreach and education. One of her favorite places to explore and volunteer at is the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. She was attracted to the Doris Duke program because of its emphasis on diversity and inclusion in conservation, which supports her interest in promoting intersectionality in STEM fields. After she graduates, she plans to pursue a PhD in a biological related field.


Joshua Pil

Joshua Pil is an Environmental Technology and Management major. Born in Queens, New York, Joshua moved to Raleigh when he was young. In North Carolina, he was introduced to an environment that had cleaner air and was not completely covered in pavement. Among the wide fields and thick forests of our state, he realized how much he enjoyed being outside with nature and the wildlife. A major influence in his life was his Nana who shared her love of gardening and bird watching with him. He values the importance of protecting our natural resources and acting altruistically for future generations. At NC State, he has joined clubs focused on service work and environmental education. He hopes to spend his life experiencing different cultures of the world while preserving our environment.


Kierra Christie

Kierra Christie is a junior majoring in Environmental Technology and Management with a minor in Environmental Toxicology. She has always had a strong interest in water quality. During her time here at NC State, she has found that she also enjoys working on issues related to soil and air quality. She plans to eventually work as a leader in different fields pertaining to minimizing and managing pollutants that are present in various environments.


Holly Keepers

Holly Keepers is a junior majoring in Conservation Biology with an Applied Ecology minor. She is originally from Roswell, Georgia, and chose to attend NC State due to the Zoology program, but later changed her major to Conservation Biology. Holly enjoys studying the wildlife aspect of conservation biology the most and hopes to one day work for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.