After finishing up her position as CC’s Physics paraprofessional, Zoe will head to the University of California, Los Angeles, to begin earning her Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. She will be monitoring the fluorescence emitted by plants to better understand CO2 uptake in a changing climate.

I am incredibly excited about this opportunity for a lot of reasons. I am really excited about the group of students I will be joining and the sense of community the department has. When I was considering the program, all the current students said that their favorite part about going there was the people and how collaborative and helpful everyone was. I am also excited about the research that I will be doing. It is incredibly interdisciplinary so I will have to utilize concepts I learned in physics, chemistry, and environmental science courses, as well as collaborate closely with biologists to better understand photosynthesis. This research also has potential policy impacts and can be applied anywhere in the world. I will also have the opportunity to do a lot of field work (I’m going to Costa Rica this summer) which I’m very excited about.

For any CC student considering graduate school in the hard sciences, get as much research experience as you can! I can’t stress that enough. I took on things as short as 2 weeks of research, just to get my foot in the door. I also took a year to paraprof after graduating, which I think really bolstered my application. I gained teaching experience, and had time to study for the GRE and really make sure my applications were exactly what I wanted them to be. I also spent a LOT of time finding programs and professors I wanted to work with.

Don’t be afraid to email or call people directly if you are interested in working with them. Some might not respond, but when they do and are reviewing applications, they will remember that you spoke with them and were very interested. Lastly, there are so many resources to help you at CC, and my application would not have been what it was had I not utilized all of them. If you are interested in a field that a CC professor does research in, absolutely get their opinion on as much as you can. Most professors can recommend research opportunities or might have research going on already. I had multiple professors as well as the Career Center look over my personal statements and CV and both had really helpful comments.

Congratulations, Zoe!

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