Meet a Student
Class of 2016
Class of 2016
The Environmental Studies Department has a way of internalizing its teachings into its students. I was on a metro in D.C., en route to my apartment from a concert (Dr. Dog was the band). While speaking with a close friend of mine, I noticed a group of people walk on to the subway. One, speaking with confidence about the future downfall of man to come with the environmental apocalypse of 2050. My ears and excitement perked as the troupe sat behind us. I turned and asked, “May I intercept in this conversation?” I began to speak of my undying optimism and my environmental knowledge obtained from the classes of Amy Cooke and Greg Gangi. I felt joy to reveal the love for the environment I found in those classrooms. The conversation ended with the aforementioned one who spoke on the downfall of man and I sharing a moment of hope for the future.
This experience laced with my experiences at the Outer Banks Field Site gave me permission to love environmental studies. I say permission, because prior to the Field Site, I never felt comfortable engaging in the field, because I began my journey after taking my environmental studies class at UNC. That was erased at the Field Site and through affirmation from many other experiences.
I hope to enter the renewable energy industry after graduation through multiple outlets: marketing, engineering, and consulting. I want to start an initiative to connect lower-middle income individuals to renewables. I will address the social stigma of renewables being limited to the rich.
I came into UNC planning to be an Environmental Science and Psychology double major, with plans to go to Divinity School after undergrad. During my sophomore year here I took a class called Political Ecology where we worked with the Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG) on a research project. It was through this class that I fell in love with food and food systems. I was fascinated by the way food impacts our everyday life and creates a common food narrative among all people. I was inspired by the CCCG and their mission to provide organic foods for free to the lowest wage workers on UNC’s campus.
It was because of this class that I switched from Environmental Science to Environmental Studies with a concentration in Food Studies. I became a regular volunteer at the CCCG, and even had the opportunity to present at the UNC Faculty Council Meeting about the Garden as an interdisciplinary learning environment for UNC students. I have had the opportunity to take another class as a part of my experiential education requirement in which my class planted a Victory Garden at CCCG and worked to increase the voice of fresh local foods on campus. My experience in Environmental Studies has allowed me to work alongside my local church to start a community garden to help achieve my long-term goal of studying the intersection of food systems and the local church.
As a first-year at UNC I had my sights set on a few different majors. I considered radiologic science, environmental science and communications. I found my place after taking a few classes in the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology as an environmental studies major.
The summer after my freshman year, I attended a Burch Field Research Seminar to study sustainability in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. That six weeks I easily moved around Europe without setting foot in a single occupancy vehicle, was dwarfed by hundreds of wind turbines and saw more solar panels than shingles on rooftops. I returned from my summer abroad exhilarated, wanting to learn more and tell others about renewable energy, public transportation and smart city planning tactics.
Returning to Carolina with this passion for sustainability, I realized I wanted a skillset that would enable me to encourage others to embrace the three E’s–environment, equity and economy. That’s when found out about a new dual degree program that allows students to earn a B.A. in environmental studies and a M.A. in mass communication from the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication in five years. Approaching my senior year, I am the first student to begin the Environment and Science Communication dual degree program and will start taking a mix of undergraduate and graduate-level courses during the Fall 2015 semester.
In addition to classes, I have found other outlets to further my involvement with environmental issues. I have been involved with UNC’s Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), held a work study position with the Institute for the Environment as a communications assistant and been a member of the Powering a Nation Visionary Team. This summer I am interning with Strata Solar as a PR/Marketing Intern.
The summer before I came to UNC, a friend whom I knew from high school encouraged me to be an environmental studies or science major. To be frank, I was a tad skeptical of going down this path; it seemed very focused and specific, and I wanted a little bit of everything out of my major. At some point or another, I realized almost everything is connected to environmental issues: commerce, global security, agriculture, population and women’s rights. I’ve chosen to focus on Energy and Sustainability.
The Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology as well as the Institute for the Environment have given me incredible opportunities to learn and grow. My time abroad in Germany, Denmark, and Sweden with the Burch Seminar in Sustainability helped shape my interests. I was able to conduct my own research on Renewable Energy Cooperatives, as well as Sustainable Rural Development through a film project with two other students, which I was able to present for the Institute’s Board of Visitors.
This guided me toward my current focus, which has been in financing clean tech. One of my favorite memories in an ENST class is working with several other students on a research paper about financing clean tech, specifically commercial and utility scale solar projects. I have also interned for Sungevity, a solar company in Oakland, California. My professors have supported me in all my endeavors, constantly offering guidance as I move forward in my time at Carolina and into the real world.
I began my freshman year at UNC knowing I wanted a career in the environment, but trying to decide if Environmental Science or Environmental Health was the correct path for me. My advisor Dr. Greg Gangi was very helpful during this decision process, recommending courses and programs for me to participate in. Originally I thought water quality was my main interest, so he led me to a program with the Flathead Lake Biological Station in Montana. I spent the summer hiking through Glacier National Park and taking measurements of streams. I really enjoyed this experience, but discovered water quality required more chemistry than my liking. Dr. Gangi also suggested I consider renewable energy, an exponentially growing field. I joined the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee (RESPC), a student-led organization that completes renewable and energy efficient projects on campus. I knew I had found my place in the environmental realm. I decided to major in Environmental Science concentrating in energy and sustainability and am now co-chair of RESPC. Last year I had the opportunity to study on exchange for a semester in New Zealand, which was an unforgettable experience.
I have continually been thankful for the amount of support staff and faculty give RESPC. They are often approaching RESPC with new project ideas or suggestions, and are always happy to meet with us to assist with a project. RESPC recently installed a 20kw solar system on the Student Union with the help of many faculty and staff. The Union was overjoyed to have the solar system on their roof and helped plan an amazing ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its completion. UNC is a leading campus in sustainability largely thanks to the passionate staff and faculty in the Institute for the Environment.
Knowing in high school that I wanted to study Environmental Science, I chose UNC for its strong Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology. After taking “Environment and Society” and participating in the Sustainability Living-Learning Community, I felt confident in my choice of major. The summer after my first year, I solidified my concentration in natural resources and conservation with a Conservation Internship at the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
Even prior to matriculation, advisors encouraged me to become involved with research. I was able to begin my research career as a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates fellow in the summer after my sophomore year. Through this position, I became fascinated by hydrologic research and how humans interact with the hydrosphere. I further developed this interest by attending the Highlands Field Site that fall, where I interned at Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory and worked on a capstone project about stream water quality.
Now, the summer before my senior year, I am combining my experience in forest ecology and hydrology as a research assistant for Dr. Larry Band in the Institute for the Environment. I am studying the future of water sustainability in the Triangle under different climate and land use scenarios. My minors in computer science and geography have proven useful as I do hydrologic modeling, and I have the opportunity to complete an honors thesis as part of the project. I look forward to working more with the professors and advisors this year as I transition into post-graduate life, recognizing that the experiences they provided in and out of the classroom have prepared me well!
I decided to attend UNC because of the opportunities to pursue both my passion for marine science as well as documentary filmmaking. Being able to study all of my interests has allowed me to pursue a career where I can use communications and apply these skills to marine biology research, combining my passions. As a biology major, I feel confident and comfortable analyzing graphs, data, looking at empirical facts and drawing conclusions, and my science related coursework has reflected that.
Participating in the UNC Increasing Diversity and Enhancing Academia (IDEA) program has opened every door I could possibly imagine and more. The IDEA program allowed me for the first time to be involved in research happening at UNC and allowed me to learn what it is like to devote your life to discovering new evidence and ideas. All of the faculty and students of the Castillo lab have been very helpful in teaching me how be a part of research, as well as advising me on how to make my own career plans a reality.
I began freshman year at UNC as a Mathematics major, which quickly changed after taking my first environmental science class. I was so intrigued by the idea of a sustainable energy system, I knew there was no other path for me to take but a major in Environmental Science and a concentration in Energy and Sustainability.
Following my first year at Carolina, I was fortunate enough to spend the summer learning more about the global effects of an energy revolution through studying abroad with the Burch Field Research seminar in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. This experience solidified my dedication to environmental issues and opened up my mind to just how much energy shapes our world, environment, society, and economy. I now have a strong belief that a clean environment is crucial for sustaining a strong economy and healthy society.
The professors I met in the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology have been the most influential part of my Carolina experience. The faculty teach classes that have consistently been insightful, challenging, and pushed creativity. Through a professor’s introduction I was able to work at my first summer internship with Birdseye Renewable Energy in Charlotte, which lead me to my second internship with Enel Green Power North America in Boston.
When I graduate in May I will leave UNC with a strong passion for the environment, sustainable energy, and dedication towards having a positive impact on these issues.
Class of 2017
For as long as I can remember, I have loved nature and being outdoors. I’m from Asheville, NC, so I grew up surrounded by the mountains of Western North Carolina (one of the most beautiful places on Earth). When I decided to come to UNC, I knew I wanted to focus my studies on the environment so I could pursue that passion.
There are so many wonderful environmental science/studies opportunities here at UNC, from classes and student organizations to internships and study abroad field sites. As a member of UNC SEAC, the Student Environmental Action Coalition, I’ve been able to take what I’m learning in class and apply it in the real world, and through that, I’ve discovered that I want to focus my interests to the policy and communication of environmental issues. I’ve also been given the opportunity to study at UNC’s Outer Banks Field Site next semester, and I’m excited to have the chance to apply my studies in an environment-focused setting.
The best thing about the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology is how broad the program is. There are many different concentrations to choose from, so I’ve really been able to focus my major on what I’m interested in and want to pursue a career in.
I knew after taking AP Environmental Science as a junior in high school at that I would major in environmental science. After being accepted to UNC, I had the chance to meet with Professor Gangi and decided immediately that this was the program for me. The environmental science major allows me to gain a wide breadth of knowledge in all aspects of the environment. One of the best parts of my experience at UNC has been the practical applications that the professors emphasize. It was with Dr. Gangi’s guidance that I decided to go to the Flathead Lake Biological Station the summer after my freshman year and then to The University of Auckland in New Zealand in the fall of 2015.
After joining Epsilon Eta in my freshman year, I was able to meet some of the most passionate and active members of UNC’s environmental community. As current public service chair, I love the opportunities available to me to organize service events that benefit UNC and the Chapel Hill community. From volunteering at the Carolina Campus Community Gardens to helping Carolina Dining Services promote composting in Lenoir, the students affiliated with Epsilon Eta help to improve sustainability and represent the quality of environmental education received at Carolina. Since joining A Drink for Tomorrow as an on-campus outreach coordinator, taking GIS courses and taking Amy Cooke’s Water Resource Management and Human Rights, I hope to pursue a career that combines hydrology with water access awareness.
Spending my summer at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City has been my favorite and most beneficial experience at UNC. Through the IDEA (Increasing Diversity and Enhancing Academia) program, I was offered a paid internship studying the ecological benefits of sustainable shoreline structures. With absolutely no research experience before the program and a very rough first start my first year at UNC, I was a little nervous about taking part in scientific research. However, being completely immersed in field work and journal articles, receiving guidance from my mentors Dr. Pete Peterson and Carter Smith, and encouragement from my program coordinator Michele Drostin rekindled the curiosity and passion I’ve always had for science. I was given the opportunity to travel across North Carolina’s coastline and study its estuaries, meet and speak with scientists of all backgrounds, observe and handle marine life I had never seen, familiarize myself with research technology, enhance my GIS skills, and even develop my own research project. The IDEA program gave me the tools to create a cover letter, resume, CV, and a poster for my first symposium.
Though my first year at UNC had some rough patches and low points, this program, my mentors, and my peers helped me regain my confidence and explore environmental sciences. The fascination I had as a child of the ocean and discovering the unknown came flooding back even after I had been so unsure of what career path I wanted to follow. I am now an Environmental Studies major and Marine Science minor, and I am still with the IDEA program working in Dr. Laura Moore’s Coastal Environmental Change Lab.
I have always had a passion for the environment from attending naturalist camps in the North Carolina mountains. I eventually began focusing on marine studies after time spent a sea turtle rehabilitation center and a four-year internship program with the North Carolina Aquarium. These programs, just to name a few, developed an excitement within me for the environment that drove me to further pursue the idea.
This background eventually led me to want to major in Environmental Science, add a chemistry minor, and concentrate in energy and sustainability. In research, I have done work in marine toxicology with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in conjunction with NOAA last summer. I presented on this research at the ASLO (Association for Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) conference in Granada, Spain in the student symposium. Last semester, I did proton-coupled electron research with the Dempsey group in the chemistry department.
I have enjoyed the environmental programs at UNC, because of the diversity of classes that are allowed to be taken to make up a major that really motivates individual students. Not only is there choice in classes, but also in the diversity of opportunities available based on the interests of the student in such a flexible program. This major has allowed me to be able to investigate what truly interests me so I can better prepare myself for the job market as well as narrow down internship opportunities. I have appreciated the more personalized attention in a smaller department and I am really excited to continue.
Class of 2018
Like many hopeful UNC students, I came to Chapel Hill wanting to go pre-med, but it didn’t take me very long to realize that wasn’t what I wanted to do, Organic Chem and MCATs aside. And like many, my interest in environmental science was sparked by classes with professors Amy Cooke and Greg Gangi (which I would definitely encourage you take). I found myself captivated by the course material and fascinated by the fact that I could help make a difference in the world while doing something that I loved to do. Who knew those two things could go together? This summer I had a wonderful experience in Charlotte, NC, working as an intern for Birdseye Renewable Energy. There, I gained a better understanding of the interconnected business world and solar industry, as well as the ever-evolving market for clean-tech innovation.
This year, I hope to get further involved with the environmental movement on campus, and I am thankful I have three more years to foster this love for the environment through various student organizations. I am currently involved with the non-profit United Solar Initiative, whose mission is to empower developing communities through solar energy while fueling a growing industry. I also aim to study abroad at the Thailand Field Site next academic year, applying my studies of energy on a global scale. Throughout all of this, my passion lies with harnessing the efficiency and sustainability of renewable energy in the hopes of creating a greener and healthier world.
Class of 2011
“I can without a doubt say that I would not be prepared for this next step without the education I have received, both in and out of the classroom, as an Environmental Science major at UNC.”
In Bill Bobbit’s first year as an environmental science major, he interned with Focus the Nation, where he organized the school’s first climate change teach-in. Later that year he worked with a doctoral student to facilitate LEED certification for a restaurant in Durham. In his time as a student he worked as a sustainability consultant for an eco-resort in Costa Rica, studied energy policy at the IE field site in Cambridge, England, and co-chaired the Environmental Affairs Committee of student government. After being awarded with a CGI International Internship, Bobbitt studied in Shanghai, China with the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy. After returning to campus, he continued to work with campus energy issues including working with the sustainability office, researching with Thomas Meyer in his solar fuels chemistry lab and organizing a sustainable food movement, Farm to Fork.
Class of 2014
Patrick Clay is an environmental science major with a concentration in ecology and a minor in biology. During his time at UNC, he has been employed as a research assistant in stream ecology. This experience led him to Italy, Germany, Hungary, Serbia and the mountains of NC to study food web subsidies from river to riparian ecosystems. Since then he earned a SURF grant, which will allow him to return to Italy to conduct his own research on the effects of tributary junctions on stream biodiversity. He is a member and outreach chair of Epsilon ETA, an environmental honors fraternity. He is also involved with UNITAS at UNC, a living-learning community.
Class of 2012
Amanda DelVecchia was an environmental science major with an ecology concentration and a minor in biology. Her experiences at UNC included teaching a water and human rights course for Dr. Greg Gangi, assisting the Environmental Affairs Committee of student government, and working in Dr. Joel Kinsolver’s lab studying ecology and evolution. As an undergraduate research assistant to IE Director Larry Band, DelVecchia worked on hydrography and hydrology using GIS. She took field ecology courses at Flathead Lake Biological Station in Montana and served as a research technician for a salmon study on the Alaskan Tundra. She also conducted independent research on carbon sequestration in the Ecuadorian mangroves.
Class of 2010
“I firmly believe that my achievements, both at UNC and beyond, are due to the strong support system that is the Institute for the Environment and its faculty and staff.”
“The ability of the Environmental Studies program to prepare non-engineering students to compete in top engineering programs is very unique, and one of its many strengths.”
“My interdisciplinary background and strong research record, both supported by the Institute for the Environment, set me apart from other students with similar disciplinary qualifications and GRE scores.”
Morgan Edwards was an environmental science major with an energy concentration and graduated in 2010 with the highest honors and highest distinction. She also earned a second bachelor of science in economics with a minor in physics. While studying at UNC she conducted extensive research related to improving energy efficiency at home and across the world. As a paid research team member with Improving Energy Efficiency in the US and Russia, Edwards worked toward developing a sustained cooperative program on energy efficiency for the Higher School of Economics in Russia and UNC. In Thailand, Edwards researched shared profit building-integrated photovoltaic systems. Her project provided a technical, environmental and economic assessment of building-integrated photovoltaic installations on residential housing in Bangkok, Thailand. Furthermore, through her honors thesis, she explored local variables in energy efficiency policy assessments. Her work included developing recommendations for future policies and metrics and identifying state energy efficiency trends. She now attends MIT after receiving a Presidential Fellowship.
Class of 2011
Tyler Evans was an environmental science major with a concentration in earth system sciences and a minor in marine science. He was involved in the Sierra Club and held part-time jobs outside the university. In the summer of 2010, Evans worked at the Flathead Lake Biological Station in Montana, where he learned about field methods, data collection and ecology. He has enrolled at the University of South Carolina to pursue a graduate degree with research focusing on coastal hydrogeology or coastal fluvial geomorphology and fluid dynamics.
Major: Business Administration and Environmental Studies
I am a senior from Pinehurst, NC. For as long as I can remember, I have been captivated by nature and how people are impacted by the physical environment around them. My sophomore year, I decided to major in Business Administration and Environmental Studies after realizing the power of business can drive innovation and change within environmental and social realms.
The opportunities I have had through both the Institute for the Environment and Kenan Flagler have been invaluable. From conducting a feasibility of an eco-industrial park in Durham with my capstone team to spending a semester studying at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, I am constantly challenged to apply an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. Additionally, this past summer I spent ten weeks working for Kenan Institute Asia in Bangkok, Thailand where I created a sustainable tourism expansion strategy for the province of Suratthani. I was fortunate to see how creating value through business can drive sustainable employment opportunities and economic development to vulnerable populations. The support of the wonderful professors and classmates of both the Institute for the Environment and Kenan Flagler has prepared me well for whatever lies ahead.
Class of 2011
Noah Kittner majored in environmental science with a double minor in mathematics and urban planning. After his freshman year he studied ecology at Flathead Lake Biological Station in Montana. This work led him to UNC’s plant ecology lab, where he was a research assistant for the rest of his time at UNC. At the IE’s field site in Thailand, he conducted research on the feasibility of solar electricity in Thailand. This work became his honors thesis. In spring of 2010 he began a research project led by the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, the Eepartment of Forestry at NC State University, and UNC. This project evaluated the UN-REDD program to mitigate climate change and deforestation. His work continued under the direction of Dr. Pam Jagger and took him to Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He served as a research intern for the International Forest Resources and Institutions group, where he reconciled deforestation in the context of poverty and rural livelihoods. Kittner has also served as a Developing Energy Leaders through Action intern with UNC Energy Management. Since graduation, he has been studying solar energy in Thailand on a Fulbright Scholarship.
Class of 2012
As an environmental science major, Ashley Mui studied drinking water treatment efficacy at the UNC School of Global Public Health, where she worked closely with faculty and graduate students. In the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, she completed a research project on the effects of nutrient enrichment in invertebrate ecology, the results of which she presented at Woods Hole’s Marine Biological Laboratory. As her focus shifted toward her energy concentration, she studied methods to determine offshore wind energy potential in the Developing Energy Leaders Through Action internship program. Mui played a role in changing UNC’s energy usage patterns through the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee, which funds renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus. During her senior year she studied at the IE’s Thailand Field Site and conducted her Capstone research project in the field of renewable energy.
An environmental science and geology double major, Sean Murphy took advantage of programs offered by the IE. He first got involved in campus renewable energy and energy efficiency projects through the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee. Through this he learned to identify, plan and implement sustainability projects working with advisors that helped prepare him for his career. In summer 2010, he traveled to Alaska and Iceland at the Burch Honors Field Research Seminar, where he learned about global climate change and renewable energy resources. At the Highlands Field Site through the Developing Energy Leaders Through Action internship, he conducted an energy assessment, implemented sustainability projects, and made recommendations for future clean energy projects.
Class of 2013
Shampa Panda was an environmental health science major with extensive undergraduate research work. With the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health , Panda managed data related to the socioeconomic and health impacts of forestry in Uganda. She also worked with the Marine Sciences Department to study environmental conditions that lead to harmful algal blooms. Panda worked with the Gillings School of Global Public Health to develop and implement a low cost water quality test for the United States Agency for International Development. In the summer of 2011, she was a participant in CSUR (Calder Summer Undergraduate Research program) after winning a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) summer research fellowhip to conduct research at the Louis Calder Biological Field Station in Armonk, NY. During the 10-week program, she worked with mentors to develop an independent research project entitled “Nutrient Dynamics and Primary Productivity in a Biomanipulated Eutrophic Lake”.
Major: Public Policy
Minors: Biology, Environmental Studies
Hometown: Owings, MD
I chose to spend the fall semester of my junior year at the UNC Outer Banks Field Site because the classes offered pertained to what I would like to do for a living one day. I have always had an interest in the environment but growing up near Washington D.C. I have also had a coinciding interest in public policy.
One of the highlights of my time at the Outer Banks Field Site was my internship with the National Park Service at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. My responsibilities included monitoring the nests of loggerhead sea turtles by going on “turtle patrol”, vegetation surveys, and attending meetings and other office work. The experiences in the field are something I will not soon forget as I can still differentiate marsh grasses or tell you how a sea turtle nests.
As much as I loved the classes and the interaction with the other UNC students at the field site, nothing blew me away more than the sunsets. My advice to any student considering spending a semester at the Outer Banks field site: bring a camera.
Class of 2006
Andrew Roe was an environmental science major who enjoyed the opportunities to study at the Highlands Field Site and the Summer Burch Program in the Sierras. Since then, he has worked in tropical Peru, in Washington at the Olympic National Park, and in Asheville with The Nature Conservancy. He received a Master’s degree from Cornell University where he studied the decision-making processes of private forest owners in New York. He plans to do wildlife research in western Uganda next year while starting a doctorate in the Forest and Wildlife Ecology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Class of 2011
“Carolina’s environmental advisors promote experiential education as acritical component of undergraduate transformation. It has been invaluable for developing my skills and career interests.”
Matt Scruggs was an environmental science major whose time at UNC was filled with valuable experiences. With a Developing Energy Leaders Through Action internship sponsored by the State Energy Office, Scruggs authored software that allows local businesses to compare emissions from business operations against those from traditionally fueled transportation businesses. The Sustainable Triangle Field Site, part of the IE, was home for invaluable work experience for Scruggs. He worked with the Town of Carrboro’s GIS Specialist, producing a high-quality topographic base map for the town. In other work in the Triangle, as a member of a Capstone team, Scruggs helped produce a baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the town. This project was presented by his team to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and became a useful tool for the town’s sustainability initiative and a foundation for future inventory work.
I first chose to attend UNC and major in Environmental Science while attending an info session at NC State. As backwards as this seems, this meeting made it plain to see that I wanted a liberal arts education to intermingle with my science interests. I came to realize that science is only one aspect of a career that would draw me in – I need community, creativity and history knowledge to complete my environmental passion. Thus, my UNC student career was born.
During my junior year, I decided to study abroad in Thailand. This was mainly a decision put forth by the Energy & Sustainability focus that came across as a graduation necessity, but turned out to be the best decision I’ve made for myself thus far. While studying in Thailand I learned more about cultures, energy, life cycle assessment and myself than I could have ever imagined. Being surrounded by people and ideas so different than your own makes you continually reevaluate everything you’ve previously enjoyed and supported in a productive, self-reflective way. I believe that was the healthiest thing I’ve ever done for myself. Though I have enjoyed them immensely, it can be easy to get caught up in all of the liberal arts requirements at UNC and can make you mix up your interests with what you’re good at. Thailand reminded me that my passion for community and sustainable living is what I need to pursue in my future to feel fulfilled and useful and I can’t express my gratitude towards UNC and the Institute for the Environment more.
Class of 2013
Alex Snedeker was an environmental science major with a concentration in environmental decision making and a minor in marine science. A National Merit Scholar, Snedeker was awarded the Mary and Watts Hill, Jr. Award from the IE. In fall of 2010, she spent the semester at the Morehead City Field Site. The following spring she held an internship with the UNC Sustainability Office working on education. Snedeker spent the summer of 2011 under the Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.
Class of 2014
“The UNC Institute for the Environment has been instrumental in shaping my college experience, my major, and my career. It is a large part of why I am proud to call myself a UNC student.”
“The Institute for the Environment’s strong and comprehensive environmental program was one of the main reasons I decided to attend UNC.”
Stephanie Tolar is a Johnston Scholar, a Winston Scholar and a member of the honors program. She has studied field ecology at Flathead Lake Biological Station in Montana and has already enjoyed several interdisciplinary and engaging courses within her environmental science major. With her IE faculty mentor, Tolar has developed a research project to examine the patterns of succession and response to disturbance in a deciduous forest. She has also studied at the IE’s Galapagos Field Program in Ecuador this summer.
The idea of attending school at UNC really clicked for me when I read over degree programs during the summer before orientation and discovered three different options for environmental majors. The outstanding advisors in environmental sciences pointed me towards the environmental health major in the School of Public Health. I was encouraged to get involved with research in Environmental Sciences and Engineering and to consider the +1 master’s degree in the department.
I started working in an environmental genomics lab after my freshman year then expanded my understanding of the field in the introductory genetics and molecular biology course. Both of these opportunities pointed me to the field of epigenetics, which became my particular niche within environmental health. I also had the incredible opportunity to learn more about public health during my study abroad in Vietnam through a Burch Field Research Seminar during my sophomore year. I’ve blended these two interests in my +1 master’s degree – I’m pursuing an MSPH (master’s of science in public health) in Dr. Rebecca Fry’s lab.
An applied practicum is required as part of any public health degree at UNC, and I am working with the Environmental Resource Program (ERP) at the UNC Institute for the Environment to complete my project. I am supporting a community engagement project at ERP that is focused on fish consumption at Lake Crabtree. It has been an incredible learning experience to see the positive response from the community and experience translating existing science into something meaningful and beneficial for the community.
Class of 2009
Since graduation, Lauren Tuttle has worked with the EPA in Research Triangle Park. At the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, Tuttle has strengthened her research skills and professional work experiences. She plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a degree in community and regional planning. She will focus on environmental planning and watershed management.
Class of 2012
Barbara Zemskova was an environmental science and applied mathematics double major. In her time at UNC, she modeled dam operations with the City University of New York, worked with remote sensing images to determine river characteristics with faculty at UNC, and conducted water sample filtering in Dr. Martin Doyle’s lab. She was vice president of Epsilon Eta, an environmental honors fraternity on campus. Zemskova took full advantage of the IE’s opportunities for undergraduate students to study abroad, including studying Japanese society, language and sustainable development in Tokyo. She also studied lake and stream ecology through the University of Montana at the Flathead Lake Biological Field Station. Zemskova was offered a position in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Buffalo, where she worked on phytoremediation barriers for groundwater-surface water exchange of pollutants. Zemskova was a 2011 Goldwater Scholarship winner.