College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Environmental Research and Education Foundation Scholarship

Sponsor: Environmental Research and Education Foundation   |  Application Deadline: April 16, 2018

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Scholarship Description

Scholarships are awarded by EREF to recognize excellence in master’s, doctoral or post-doctoral waste management research and education.  Awards to doctoral students are given in memory of Francois Fiessinger, P.E., Ph.D., a graduate of Rutgers University, who was a founding director of the foundation; and by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation.  Master’s scholarships are made possible by the late Robert P. Stearns, P.E., DEE of SCS Engineers who was a former Chairman of EREF and by Robert J. Riethmiller of PTR Baler and Compactor Company. Most recently EREF has established the Waste Industries Scholarship Honoring Lonnie C. Poole, Jr., and EREF founder and Director Emeritus.

Fiessinger Doctoral Scholarship

Francois Fiessinger dedicated his professional life to furthering international research and technology development efforts in the areas of waste and water management. Francois was one of the founders of EREF in 1994. He served on the Board of Directors from its inception until he passed away in 1997. Francois was a visionary who believed in science and engineering as vehicles for improving the quality of our environment and our lives.

In 1997, based on a contribution from Lyonnaise des Eaux, the Francois Fiessinger Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to recognize excellence in Ph.D. or postdoctoral environmental research and education.

EREF Doctoral Scholarship

As part of its mission, EREF furthers education in the solid waste management industry.  In the past, multiple outstanding candidates have applied for the Fiessinger award in the same year, prompting EREF to periodically utilize foundation funds to award additional scholarships.  EREF now regularly awards Ph.D. and postdoctoral scholarships to notable candidates, expanding the scholarship program.

Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship

Robert P. Stearns, Chairman and CoFounder of SCS Engineers, joined the EREF Board of Directors in 1999 and served as Chairman from 2004–2005. At SCS, he directed or served in a review capacity on many of the firm’s solid waste management-related projects. Under his leadership SCS grew to more than 500 employees located in 9 regional offices throughout the United States.

Following his retirement in 2006, Bob continued as SCS Chairman of the Board focusing on strategic planning and acquisitions. In 2007 EREF awarded the first Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship, which was established to expand EREF’s successful doctoral-level scholarship program.

Robert J. Riethmiller/PTR Baler and Compactor Master’s Scholarship

Robert J. Riethmiller, Chairman of PTR Baler and Compactor, served on the EREF Board as the Chairman of the Scholarship Committee. Riethmiller’s grandfather, also Bob Riethmiller, began working for PTR in 1911, and purchased it in 1929; since then it has been a family-run business. PTR is a fourth generation, family-owned company that manufactures, installs and services balers and compactors in all 50 states and sells internationally. Now retired, Riethmiller worked in the waste industry for over 50 years.

Waste Industries Scholarship Honoring Lonnie C. Poole Jr.

Lonnie C. Poole, Jr., one of EREF’s founders and currently a Director Emeritus, is the founder of Raleigh-based Waste Industries USA, Inc. Lonnie, who grew up on a farm in North Carolina, was the first in his family to attend college. After graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University, he served as a pilot in the U.S. Army for three years, and then returned home to earn his MBA at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He then found success in the business world, excelling as both a sales manager and an engineer. In 1970 Lonnie founded Waste Industries, a non-hazardous solid waste services company, which now serves more than 1.25 million customers across five states.

Carl J. Apicella Scholarship

Carl is a strong supporter of EREF, having played an important role in the EREF Fall Classic & Networking Event and Annual Charitable Auction for several years. “EREF is the one organization that really focuses on giving back to the environmental industry,” Carl expressed during his announcement of the scholarship during the EREF Annual Charitable Auction, held on April 30 during WasteExpo 2014. “I’ve been blessed to have worked with so many great people and companies over the last 25 years; I wanted to give back to the solid waste industry and supporting EREF is a perfect way to accomplish that.”

Ice River Springs Master’s Scholarship for Sustainability

Fully integrated from water source to the manufacturing of bottles, Ice River Springs is an Ontario-based company that makes bottles, caps and packages, and packages spring water, purified water and distilled water. The company strives to constantly innovate finding new ways to recycle, reduce energy consumption and minimize waste. Ice River Springs is the only beverage company in North America to operate a closed loop system that reclaims plastic from used containers and produces 100% recycled bottles along with filling and distribution.

“The Ice River Springs Master’s Scholarship for Sustainability was created to promote recycling, reduce the amount of material being landfilled and decrease the carbon footprint by emphasizing plastics recycling,” said Sandy Gott, Executive Vice President and CoOwner at Ice River Springs. “EREF funds the scientific research behind the technology that can make a true environmental impact, and this fits our corporate values.”

The eligibility requirements for the Ice River Springs Master’s Scholarship for Sustainability are as follows:

  • Master’s students enrolled full-time
  • Must be enrolled at a Canadian academic institution
  • Area of research that relates to recycling, with preference given to applicants exploring the recyclability of plastics, plastic bottles and/or PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic

Garbageman’s Invitational Master’s Scholarship

The Garbageman’s Invitational was founded in 2010 by Kerry Holmes (Vice President of Sales, Consolidated Fabricators), Mike Melideo (Owner, Consolidated Fabricators) and Ray Burke (Vice President, Clean Energy). These three men set out to create a unique annual networking event for their customers and prospects in the solid waste and recycling industry throughout the United States and Canada.

The sponsors of the Garbageman's Invitational felt strongly that there should be an element of "giving back" to the industry. “As the leader in solid waste research and education, EREF was an easy choice as the charity to benefit from the event,” said Kerry Holmes. “EREF, with its presence throughout North America, is well aligned with the Garbageman's Invitational’s goal to attract more industry leaders throughout the United States and Canada.”

100% of any donations made to EREF through the Garbageman’s Invitational will fund graduate students pursuing excellence in solid waste management research and education.

Evergreen Surety Bond Scholarship

Founded specifically to serve the needs of the waste industry and contractors who need payment and performance bonds, Evergreen National Indemnity Company (Evergreen) has become an industry leader in surety bonds. Evergreen was one of the first firms to tackle the requirements of Subtitle D and is frequently called upon to give recommendations to regulators and rating agencies on surety issues.

Reinhart Master’s Scholarship

Debbie Reinhart, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE is a Pegasus Professor and Assistant Vice President for Research and Commercialization at the University of Central Florida. From 2011-2013 she served as the Environmental Engineering Program Manager at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. She received her graduate degrees in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining UCF, she served as a consulting engineer for companies in Atlanta and was chief of the research & development division of the Bureau of Pollution Control in that city. She is currently a member of EREF’s Board of Directors and Research Council.

Debbie has contributed to the advancement of environmental engineering and science professions through her service to professional organizations, higher education, and mentorship. She has been particularly effective at mentoring under-represented engineering scholars. Debbie is most known for her work with bioreactor landfills which produced operational, monitoring, and design information, as well as the first text on the topic. The Reinhart Master’s Scholarship is aimed at funding female environmental engineering students.


Awarded Scholars

Awards Based On

  • Academic performance
  • Professional experience
  • Relevance of one’s work to the advancement of solid waste management science
  • Potential for success

Scholarship Range

Award amounts consider the cost of tuition at the recipient’s institution and any other funds received.  Full scholarships may not be awarded to students who will be receiving full-tuition scholarships from other sources (excluding direct university assistance such as tuition remission, or assistantship income) but may still be considered for partial awards.

Doctoral scholarships are awarded up to $14,400 per year, paid monthly, and can be extended for up to 3 years from the initial award date.  Master’s scholarships are awarded up to $6,000 per year and can be extended for up to 2 years from the initial award date. Scholarship renewal is dependent upon satisfactory progress as determined by the student’s academic advisor.

Eligibility Requirements


Applications will be considered from those who:

  • will be this year or are now a full-time master’s or doctoral student, and
  • have a clearly demonstrated interest in solid waste management research. EREF defines solid waste management to pertain to municipal solid waste, construction & demolition waste, industrial waste (e.g. coal ash), WTE ash, etc. Note this definition does not include agricultural wastes or wastewater treatment plant sludge.

Scholarships recognize graduate students pursuing excellence in solid waste management research and education.  Recipients are chosen based on credentials and potential contributions to the solid waste industry and its scientific community.

Contact Information

Bryan Stavely

Environmental Research and Education Foundation
3301 Benson Drive, Suite 301
Raleigh, NC 27609
United States

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