Ryan Environmental Research Symposium and Ryan Environmental Prize for Excellence in Research

Established with the generous support of Louis and Prudence Ryan, the Ryan Environmental Research Symposium features the best of student research from scholars in the Batten Honors College. Under the mentorship of VWU Faculty and community leaders, student  scholarship featured in the Symposium explores complex environmental challenges in a global context.

Each Spring, students from the Batten Honors College present their research in the symposium. A  committee of Batten Professors and Student Representatives will select the best projects from the  application pool to present their research at a poster session during the Symposium. The top three  students will be selected to present their work in a premiere public event that brings together  scholars, mentors, and community leaders.

The Louis and Prudence Ryan Prize recognizes excellence in research presented by a student  from the Batten Honors College at the Louis and Prudence Ryan Research Symposium.

  • Award - $750 Cash Award, Recognition Plaque, $750 donation in honor of the award  winner made to the environmental organization or their choosing.
  • Runners-up (2) -$125 Cash Award, Recognition Plaque, $125 donation to an  environmental organization of their choosing for each runner-up.
  • Institution Recognition - Names of award winners will be placed on plaque prominently displayed on campus.

Application Criteria


Batten Honors College students completing their Senior Honors Capstone.


  • Clearly state the central research question and/or purpose of the project.
  • Define the project approach - paper, qualitative research, analytical/lab research, creative  project.
  • Provide brief, relevant scholarly or research context (no actual citations required) that  demonstrate the project’s attempt to make a unique contribution to the area of inquiry.
  • Provide a brief description of the research methodology.
  • State conclusions or expected results and the context in which they will be discussed.

Selection Criteria

The Undergraduate Research Director will convene a committee of 5 adjudicators that will serve  on the Award Panel. The panel will feature Batten Professors, a student from the Batten Honors  College Junior class, and a local leader from an organization committed to the environment.

All applicants will be adjudicated by the following principles, with the top three projects being  invited to present at the public event. Projects will be judged on four criteria:

  • Potential Impact of the Project - Project demonstrates one or more solutions/hypotheses  that explore a deep comprehension of the problem. Projects are sensitive to  contextual factors including: environmental, ethical, logical, and cultural  dimensions. The project goals must be achievable and sustainable over time.
  • Addressing Environmental Complexities - Project or research question is imaginative,  taking into account the complexities of an issue. Scholar understands and  articulates the limits of project and solution, or acknowledges scalability of the  project to global contexts. Articulates other points of view. The environmental  impacts are synthesized within solution and articulated well.
  • Strength of Evidence - Project demonstrates skillful use of high quality, credible, relevant  sources to develop ideas that are appropriate for the discipline and genre of the  writing. Sources of support are integrated seamlessly into the solution to create a  nearly irrefutable solution.
  • Communication - Well-written and clearly communicates the value of the project  relatable to audiences from different backgrounds.