When it came time to declare a major, Stephanie Jarvis couldn’t decide between biology and geology, so instead of choosing one over the other, she opted for both. “I had to decide quickly in order to get all of the classes I needed (in both disciplines),” she said, noting that she has always had an interest in the sciences, “but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there were a lot of interrelated concepts between the two, and I liked that.”
A graduate of Shelby County High School in Shelbyville, Ky., where she finished among the top five in her class, and now a junior at The College of Wooster, Jarvis has had little time to sit still since that decision two years ago.
In addition to a formidable academic load, she is involved in a number of campus activities, including the Community Bike Program, which she is trying to resurrect through her leadership as president of the organization. She is also part of the Committee for a Sustainable Campus, a volunteer at Local Roots (a nearby food co-op), a caretaker at the greenhouse in Mateer Hall, a member of the Residential Life recycling committee, and a founder of SEWER (Students Engaged in Worthy Ecological Research), which is trying to coordinate environmental research efforts across campus.
Jarvis writes a student-voice column for The Professional Geologist, a publication of the American Institute of Professional Geologists — an opportunity that came about after the organization awarded her a scholarship. As if that is not enough, she recently landed a job with Petro Evaluation Services, a local oil exploration company. She logs between six and seven hours per week analyzing cross sections of rocks to generate maps using existing software programs. "It's a great learning experience, on many different levels," she said.
Although the pace of her daily schedule is taxing at times, Jarvis enjoys the challenges, particularly the research aspect of her studies. “Independent Study (Wooster’s nationally acclaimed undergraduate research program) is what drew me to Wooster,” said Jarvis, who first learned about the College when she received a post card in the mail that pictured the knees of students from the Scot Marching Band wearing kilts, and “thought it was really cool.”
Jarvis will continue her research this summer when she travels to Glacier Bay, Alaska, to study tree-line dynamics (the stresses that trees experience at their highest altitude). She will then return to Ohio and begin work on a joint Independent Study project that will be advised by Professors Greg Wiles (geology) and Marilyn Loveless (biology). “I am very excited about the things I will be doing,” said Jarvis, who spent last summer conducting research on the effects of surface mining reclamation on soil nutrient cycling in eastern Kentucky, which she then presented at the annual Geological Society of America meeting in Portland, Ore., last October.
After completing her studies at Wooster, Jarvis is leaning toward graduate school. “I’m interested in environmental issues, particularly water, and the policies that surround them,” she said. “I can see myself working for an agency like the U.S. Geological Survey or a state geological survey. I’m interested in education, too, so that is another possibility I am considering.”
Jarvis traces her interests in the environment to a childhood spent mainly outdoors. Back home in Kentucky, her family has a garden and small orchard on five-acres with berries, pears, peaches, apples, and much more. “My dad, an industrial electrician, is a former certified nurseryman, and my mother is a retired lab scientist turned farmer’s market vendor,” she said.
While Jarvis enjoys her trips home, she also cherishes her time on campus. “Wooster has a very real feel to it that many other schools do not,” she said. “There’s a great sense of balance here.”
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