SuCCess Stories: Meet Jo Jensen ’14!

This post is part of the Career Center’s bi-weekly roundup of alumni success stories. Check out Jo Jensen ’14’s story below, and find more SuCCess Stories here!


A chat with Jo Jensen ’14


Major: Environmental Science

Grad Year: 2014

Current Title, Organization: Ph.D. student in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at Columbia University

As part of her Ph.D. program, Johanna (Jo) Jensen spends time in Alaska and Canada studying treelines for the effects of climate change. When she’s not doing that, she can be found in New York City, where she is in a doctoral program at Columbia University. She is studying Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology. What she’s really doing is studying how climate change is affecting Arctic ecosystems.


Jo graduated from CC in 2014 with a degree in Environmental Science. Immediately following graduation, Jo worked as a camp counselor; she then went to Spain for an internship in studying dolphin ecology.


When her stint in Europe was over, Jo went to work for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). There, she worked as a technician collecting data on alpine plants. It was during this job that she realized that she missed the academic challenge of CC, and decided that it was time to pursue her education once again.


Jo started her Ph.D. program at Columbia University in the fall of 2016. Her program allows her to engage in intensive field research and fieldwork related to her dissertation. In her own words, her dissertation focuses on “the feedback effects of climate change on the Arctic forest tundra ecotone, which is the transition zone between boreal forest and Arctic tundra.”


One perk of her Ph.D. program? Jo will soon start working as a teaching assistant – something she’s excited for, as she’s interested in teaching in the future, at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Jo sees her time at CC as a formative experience, and looks forward to passing on her knowledge and insights to future students.


A major takeaway from Jo’s liberal arts education has been developing the skill of crossing disciplines and that of clear communication with people. She believes that it’s good to have strong communication skills as a scientist, so she can communicate well with the general public. After all, strong communication is never just limited to English and humanities majors – it applies to those in the sciences as well. Why study one of the most important issues of the modern age if you can’t communicate your findings to anyone?


For students who are interested in breaking into her field, Jo suggests getting some practical hands-on experience where they can learn tactical and technical skills. She also suggests that students network with people who are interested in similar fields.


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