I'm working with Dr. Benedetti and Dr. Lane to reconstruct paleoenvironmental change in both coastal Portugal and the southeastern U.S. using organic geochemical proxies. I've primarily focused on the use of compound-specific isotopes and molecular distributions of plant wax compounds to determine hydroclimate variability and vegetation change over time.
I began work in the UNCW Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry lab (UNC-WIRMS) starting the second semester of my freshman year. After gaining experience with sample preparation and instrumental operation, I was offered the opportunity to participate in field work and develop a related research project. I hoped this experience would prepare me for graduate school and allow me to explore potential career paths.
It was certainly challenging at times, but overall it was an awesome and worthwhile experience! I learned a lot of lab techniques, analytical methods, and ways in which my knowledge could be applied. I feel prepared for graduate school and confident in my ability to conduct research independently.
This experience has undoubtedly provided me with the skills and mindset needed to secure a job and/or pursue an advanced degree. I think most potential employers or advisors recognize the amount of work research requires and the knowledge and discipline that result from these applied learning experiences. As a hopeful future graduate student, the successful completion of a research project demonstrates my capability to take on challenges, apply myself, and follow through.