Alumni Profiles

Caroline Coccoli (Class of 2015)

C CoccoliMost people ask me why I chose Northwestern after they learn I want to study coastal science. Truthfully, I didn’t know that I was so interested in rivers, estuaries and the ocean until I got to campus and realized that Lake Michigan didn’t smell like the briny waters I grew up on (duh!). Despite the school’s geography, Northwestern’s environmental science coursework exposed me to the various and interrelated topics, like biogeochemistry and aqueous geochemistry, I’d need to understand processes at the land-ocean boundary. Based on the guidance of Northwestern advisors, I pursued an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates fellowship at Oregon State University for two summers. This research—my first foray into oceanography—took me to both the AGU and Ocean Sciences meetings, and through it I developed profound relationships with students and mentors across the country. The flexibility of the ES program at Northwestern also allowed me to explore water issues internationally, as I interned at an agricultural and water quality association in Strasbourg, France during my junior year. This fall I will continue my studies through an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship at the MER (Marine Environment and Resources) university consortium in France, Belgium and Spain.

Allison Patrick (Class of 2015)

A PatrickGrowing up with dogs, I have always loved animals, but it took me until my freshman year at Northwestern to realize that I wanted to pursue a career in animal behavior and conservation. After attending a Jeff Corwin talk on campus my freshman year, I decided to declare an Environmental Science major, and it was a great decision for me. I was inspired by many of the courses I took to fulfill the major, in combination with courses for my Environmental Policy and Culture minor. Through courses like Health of the Biosphere, Conservation Biology, and Human and Animal Behavior, I learned an immense amount of information and did a lot of hands-on work that will be valuable to my career pursuits. My junior year, I studied abroad in Costa Rica, where I learned about tropical biology and environmental policy and conducted research on plants and bees. I was also able to complete an independent study on squirrel behaviors for my senior thesis through the Environmental Science program. With lots of enjoyable and diverse classes, the major has allowed me to develop my interests and skills and has provided me with a great basis for my future. Following graduation, I will be doing an Animal Welfare Research Residency at the Detroit Zoo, where I will conduct behavioral research that will help develop the best possible care techniques for zoo animals.

Kristine Werling (Class of 2014)

Kristine WerlingGrowing up I always had a passion for the environment. At a young age, this passion manifested itself as long summers running barefoot in my yard or catching toads from the nearby pond; but in college, this passion was energized through my science classes and extracurricular activities at NU. I declared my major in Environmental Science my freshman year, but I continued to explore many different post-graduate career options through internships, shadowings, Chicago Field Studies, etc. Then, after a phenomenal course in environmental microbiology and an opportunity to work in a scientific research lab on campus, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in academia doing research. With the overwhelming support and encouragement of the Enviro Sci faculty at NU, I have been able to work towards this goal. This summer I will begin a PhD program at Harvard University studying infectious disease microbiology—an area of study in which I see a major interplay between public health and environmental influences. Outside of the classroom, I was also involved with SEED (Students for Ecological and Environmental Development), Greek life, and Club Sports.

Nora Richter (Class of 2014)

N RichterMy interests have always been in the environment and understanding ecological processes. At Northwestern, I was able to delve deeper into these subjects and gain a strong scientific background through the flexibility of my majors in Environmental Science, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and the Integrated Science Program. In my junior year, I studied abroad in New Zealand where I took field ecology courses to augment my Environmental Science background. My research interests in lakes and the Arctic took me to Svalbard, Norway for my senior thesis and now I am currently working as a field research assistant in Greenland. After this I will be studying a lake in the Swiss Alps before starting my PhD. All of these experiences have been really unique opportunities that have allowed me to find my research niche, travel, and do amazing field work before starting graduate school.

Sophie Ewald (Class of 2012)

Sophie EwaldI graduated from Northwestern in December 2012. I moved to New York City and started working on Parkinson's Disease in a research laboratory at Weill Cornell Medical College. The greatest advantage of the Environmental Sciences program was its flexibility. We could tailor the major to be what we wanted it to be. Besides the required core course, I focused on microbiology and global health. In my current laboratory work, these are actually useful topics to know. Moreover, the research project for my senior thesis turned out to be valuable because it introduced me to laboratory work. Not only the Science track students could 'get their feet wet.' The Environmental policy majors had the chance to study abroad in Germany and to learn about the EU's Environmental policies instead. Overall, there are great opportunities for everyone no matter what your specific interest might be. 

Lisa Mithun (Class of 2012) 

Lisa MithunI always figured I'd work in the environmental field, but the closer I got to graduation, the less enthused I was about it (plus, no one wanted to hire me without going to grad school first).  So I started looking at tech companies and startups instead.  I interviewed at and the first question they asked me was how my environmental science background was relevant to a sales position at a cloud computing company.  I told them how environmental sciences is a young and evolving field that requires us to constantly identify environmental problems and to apply what we know from other fields--like chemistry or even economics-- to devise new, creative solutions.  It's about the ability to problem-solve and think creatively, which are important skills regardless of what career path you take.  The interviewer actually told me she loved my answer.  And yeah, I got the job!