What made you decide to pursue a Ph.D. in the U of M's EEB program?
The student and faculty community in the EEB program sold itself without even trying - everyone seemed genuinely happy and most students were given the flexibility to design their own research programs. I was enticed by the support and opportunities available in this department.
Tell us about your research.
I study nitrogen and phosphorus cycling in aquatic ecosystems. I work across a diversity of landscapes — a remote stream system in northern California, city streets in St. Paul, and local lakes across a gradient of human use, from urban to suburban to agricultural. The ultimate goal of my research is to influence best management practices for lakes, streams and rivers.
I was introduced to aquatic ecology as a 1st year undergraduate at St. Catherine University and have been captivated ever since. Rivers and lakes are dynamic systems that integrate and connect landscapes. Increasing our understanding of how these systems work, especially those that are heavily impacted by humans, couldn't be more relevant.
For those not from Minnesota, what is a Minnesota winter like?
It can be very cold and long. I am a native Minnesotan, and winter doesn't usually get to me. I try to stay active outdoors and embrace the weather. My one suggestion would be to find a rental that includes heat - having a cozy, warm home is essential to mental health in the winter.
For those who don't consider themselves "city people," does the University of Minnesota feel like an urban campus?
There is definitely access to the things that 'city people' do (e.g. art museums, concerts, events, a deluge of restaurant options), but a hike, bike ride or paddle is also just a stone's throw away. I think that's the beauty of a city this size; it has a wonderful mix of outdoor recreation opportunities and city events.
Some graduate programs feel very competitive. Is that the case with EEB?
No, not at all. This is a serious graduate program with very real expectations, but I do not feel like I am competing with my peers.
Once you have your Ph.D., what are you going to do with your degree?
I am not sure. I am trying to explore all options. I really love teaching, so I hope for that to be a main component of whatever job I find. I have explored other potential opportunities through the BOREAS program - that's a great community for exploring alternative career paths.