June 29, 2016

Hilary White 2010

I’m a proud 2010 graduate of Lafayette College with a B.Sc. White_1Geology degree. While at Lafayette, I was part of the EXCEL Scholar program, which enabled me to conduct research with Dr. Kira Lawrence. This research evolved into an honor’s thesis using a multi-proxy approach to understanding the Plio-Pleistocene climate evolution of the North Atlantic Ocean. After graduation, I obtained a M.Sc. in Geology at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada where I completed a paleolimnological reconstruction of the Chignecto Isthmus, New Brunswick/Nova Scotia, Canada. Currently, I am completing my Ph.D. in the Geography department at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Through my Ph.D. research, I have been fortunate enough to travel to the Canadian Arctic to study freshwater lakes and how they are influenced by climate change over multiple time scales.

At Lafayette, I began my studies as a Biology major but eventually discovered that I did not enjoy this course of study. I knew that I wanted to stay in the natural sciences and I found myself increasingly drawn to the hands-on and integrative aspects of Geology. The idea of walking outside and having the ability to understand how and why landforms are created seemed incredible to me. Who doesn’t want to go on field trips and learn how the Earth works!?! I switched to Geology at the beginning of my sophomore year and knew immediately that I had made the right choice, especially after taking Dr. Lawrence’s Introduction to Earth’s Climate and Professor Hovis’ Mineralogy courses. I immediately felt like I was part of a community that supported me not only as a person, but also as a student. As the years continued, the Geology department became my extended family, for which I continue to be extremely thankful for today.

My time at Lafayette was a period of incredible academic and personal growth, largely thanks to my experience as a Geology major. As previously mentioned I was part of the EXCEL scholar program which, in combination with my honor’s thesis, was an incredibly transformative experience. It gave me the opportunity to work one-on-one with Professor Lawrence and experience all the stages of scientific research, including the literature review, lab work, data processing and analysis, data synthesis, and writing scientifically. In addition to my academics, I was a member of the varsity swim team all four years. This experience helped me hone my time management skills and instilled the importance of team work, perseverance, and leading by example.

All in all, the Geology department at Lafayette shaped who I am as a person today, how I conduct myself daily, and the direction I want to take in life. The department prepares you extremely well for the real world, both in and out of academia. If I could offer one key piece of advice, it would be that it is OK to not know the exact path you wish to take once you complete your studies at Lafayette. You may not end up in a dream job or an academic position immediately, but know that your experiences at Lafayette and specifically in the Geology department have provided you with the skill set to land on your feet and be successful. Always have confidence in yourself and your Lafayette education and never stop being curious. It’s been said many times that it is not the destination, but the journey of life that is important. Embrace it and enjoy the experience!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about graduate school, the academic path, or life after Lafayette in general!

Here are some links to the programs I have attended:

Research station for my Master’s research: http://beaubassinresearchcentre.ca/

Wilfrid Laurier University: https://wlu.ca/graduate-and-postdoctoral-studies/index.html

National Park for my PhD research: http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/mb/wapusk/index.aspx