What are you up to right now? What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally, academically?
I graduated from Carleton College in June 2018 with a degree in geology, and now I work as an environmental field scientist for an environmental engineering company in Portland, OR. My work focuses on groundwater quality monitoring and pollution assessment at landfill sites, so you'll generally find me out in the field collecting water samples or hunched over a computer analyzing results and writing reports. Working at landfills has been a very interesting and eye-opening experience, and it's made me think more critically about how to best address the overwhelming issue of waste. I've found myself becoming fascinated with waste -- it is such a complex, interdisciplinary subject with profound implications for society and the future. While it's not strictly part of my job, I've been working hard to study the concept of waste through anthropological, social, and environmental justice lenses. If anyone is interested, there is a phenomenal resource called Discard Studies that addresses many of the current issues surrounding waste.
Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos Scholar alumni, and if so — how?
I was fortunate to go to college with two Bezos alums: Spencer O'Bryan and Anna Schumacher! I've also found myself crossing paths with Marshal Landrum quite a bit, and we even ended up on the same study abroad program in Iceland. I keep up to date on the rest of my cohort through social media, but I'd love to do another reunion soon!
Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds?
It's so exciting to have time to read for fun now that I've graduated! I've been reading "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, which is a gorgeously magical mystery/thriller about secret libraries and spies and stories within stories. I also just finished reading "Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape" by Lauret Savoy. Dr. Savoy writes about how her heritage is deeply intertwined with the geological landscape her family traversed over generations, and how she has discovered more about her own life by studying the land. It's one of the most thought-provoking books I've read in a long time, and I highly recommend it.
Who or what are you finding inspiration in right now?
On a personal level, I'm finding a lot of inspiration in physical strength. I've been running and climbing quite a bit, and I'm finding that my mental clarity and confidence is so connected to feeling strong in my body. Climbing especially does this for me – it's literally about overcoming obstacles! If I've had a challenging day at work or I'm feeling stressed or anxious, climbing helps me to re-center.
Anything else you want to share with the BSP community?
Poetry is always a good idea! Here's a poem I've been thinking about lately, it's called "Moments" by the late Mary Oliver.
There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving your money away, all of it.
Your heart is beating, isn’t it?
You’re not in chains, are you?
There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.