Ryan M. Poehling Memorial Scholarship

Recent: 2012 Poehling Scholarship awarded to Cody Mertens.


Ryan Michael Poehling was born March 21, 1973 to Henry (Hank) and Sandra (Sandy) Poehling of La Crosse, Wisconsin. At only 16 years of age, Ryan was diagnosed with Epithelial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that even today, very little is known about. Ryan went on to win the battle with this disease, and in 1995 earned his bachelor's in Geography, graduating with honors, from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Along the way, he served as student representative in Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geographical honor society. His passion for geography led him to the University of Florida where in 1997, he earned his Master's degree, graduating with highest honors, was named Student of the Year, and was the youngest person ever nominated for Teacher of the Year. On January 16, 1999, Ryan married the love of his life, Angela Gould, in Gainsville. He continued his graduate studies at Florida taking aim at the rank of Ph.D. Nearing completion of his requirements, Ryan was again stricken with the same cancer. Still, he pressed on and presented his dissertation but sadly passed away on December 17, 2000, at age 27, surrounded by his devoted wife Angela and other family members. Although Ryan passed on before being able to defend his dissertation and finalize his Ph.D. requirements, on May 15, 2001, he was posthumously awarded his doctorate during UF's spring commencement ceremony. Following Ryan's passing, his family set about establishing a charitable foundation in his honor. Today, this foundation, the Ryan Michael Poehling Charitable Foundation, Inc., generously provides UW-L Geography students the chance to further enhance their education with the Ryan M. Poehling Memorial Scholarship along with offering the Ryan M. Poehling Memorial Fellowship to University of Florida graduate students.

Application Information

Applications are generally accepted during the month of October with the scholarship being awarded in mid to late November. Applications will be available on this page during this timeframe.

2012 Recipient of the Ryan M. Poehling Memorial Scholarship

The UW-L Geography & Earth Science Department is pleased to announce the 2012 Ryan Michael Poehling Scholarship has been awarded to Cody Mertens.

Cody is very active in the department. His recent activities include assisting his advisors, Dr. Colin Belby and Dr. Ryan Perroy in their ongoing study of soil contamination in the La Crosse River marsh. Cody presented findings of this study at the Applied Geography Conference and will be presenting at the American Association of Geographers in Los Angeles, California in the Spring of 2013. Cody is also a member of the UW-L fishing club holding the position of Competition Director and continues his efforts on getting this two-year old club's name into the college tournament fishing scene. As of late, Cody has been volunteering for the Volunteer Within Club, collecting cans door-to-door on Halloween.

Away from campus Cody enjoys an array of outdoor activities including; hiking, camping, hunting, and canoeing.

Cody's future plans include engaging in graduate studies in a GIS / Spatial Data Analysis program where he hopes to expand his knowledge of advance modeling and prediction of environmental processes and problems. After graduate school, Cody hopes to obtain a job as an environmental consultant and perhaps one day own his own business.

The Geography & Earth Science Department would like to congratulate Cody on this outstanding achievement.

Hank Poehling and Cody Mertens  Cody Mertens (c) along with advisors Dr. Colin Belby (l) and Dr. Ryan Perroy (r) 

Past Recipients

2001  Scott Leis  2007  Jameson Loesch 
2002  Jennifer Hauser  2008  Martin Elmer 
2003  Margaret Hollenhorst  2009  Brett Mittelstaedt 
2004  Amber Minard  2010  Benjamin Uphoff 
2005  Nathan Koster  2011  Alexander Wegner 
2006  John Lauermann  2012  Cody Mertens 

More Information

For additional information about Ryan and this generous scholarship:

Visit the Ryan Michael Poehling Charitable Foundation, Inc. on Facebook or

Contact the UW-L Geography Department:

Office: 608.785.8333
Dr. Georges Cravins: 608.785.6674, email gcravins@uwlax.edu