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Student Spotlight: Hallie Turner ’24

February 19, 2024 Hallie Turner

Hallie Turner

Expected Graduation: May 2024
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Major: Environmental Science major (Quantitative Energy Systems Track), Philosophy minor
Field Site: Highlands, Fall 2022  

Why did you decide to pursue an environmental or environmental-related field of study? 

I decided to pursue environmental science because I love how interdisciplinary it is; it touches aspects of math, computer science, geography, biology, law, public policy and the list goes on. Studying environmental science enables me to solve complex modern problems. 

Why did you choose this specific experience?  

I chose this experience because having a scientific understanding of the mountain ecosystems and communities I already care about will enable me to better protect them. 

What did you do/learn during your experience?  

I attended the Highlands Field Site during Fall 2022, where I conducted dendrochronology research to monitor how the Carolina hemlock, a near-threatened species, is responding to a changing climate. I also researched microplastic distribution in a mountain watershed, went on several remarkable field trips in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and met people I’ll remember for many years to come. 

Describe how this experience impacted you as a student. What personal and professional skills did you gain? How have or how will you apply what you are learning/have learned to your future? 

As someone who had never had a college internship before this program, attending Highlands Field Site was the best decision I could have made to gain real-world resume experience and confirm that I had chosen the right career path. I learned a tremendous amount about the ins and outs of field work, collaboration, writing a scientific paper, and (my favorite part) southern Appalachian culture and history. 

What is your favorite memory from your experience? 

I loved cowboy camping at Purchase Knob and waking up to see a clear sky full of stars, followed by a long day hike to visit a giant old-growth poplar tree and watch elk bugle in Cataloochee.