Class of 2008
Throughout most of high school, I had no idea what field I wanted to go into. Though I knew that I enjoyed math and science, it was not until I took a trip to Costa Rica, where I was able to work firsthand on conservation projects, that I decided that I wanted to focus my education around what I could do for the environment.
I choose Pacific University because on my first visit to the campus, I was offered a meeting with Deke Gundersen, who at the time was the only Environmental Science Professor. Both of my sisters had gone to a large, state school, where they hadn’t had so much as a conversation with a professor until their junior year. Having the opportunity to meet with a professor before I was even a student was a thrill. Deke was also incredibly enthusiastic about the environment and gave me the opportunity to follow any path within the department. I ended up majoring in Environmental Science, with an emphasis in Biology. This allowed me to focus on biology but to also extend my education to environmental issues and solutions.
Finding A Pathway
During my time at Pacific University, I have had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of projects, experiences, and awards. Freshman and sophomore year, I worked on developing a method for testing local well water for contaminants using a variety of instruments. That summer I also participated in a research project examining organopesticides in the tissues of the White Sturgeon of the Columbia River. During my junior and senior years I researched the effects of kinship composition on the behavior of Pacific Tree Frog tadpoles. While at Pacific I have been able to attend three scientific conferences, and through a variety of travel classes I have had the opportunity to study everywhere from eastern Oregon and Hawaii to Belize and Costa Rica.
One of my greatest experiences while at Pacific was receiving an Environmental Protection Agency Undergraduate Fellowship that not only provided some welcome financial support, but also provided me with a summer internship in an EPA Laboratory. Through this internship I was able to work for one summer on a Microbial Source Tracking project.
Next year I will be traveling to New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar with the opportunity to study a native endangered reptile, the Tuatara. Upon my return, I hope to enter a graduate program focusing on conservation ecology. With my degree, I plan to one day enter a professorship at a university where I will not only perform research, but also educate the next generation of environmentalists and scientists.