Science and Technology

A tropical frame of mind

Honors College grad plays up "string of opportunities"


SUMMARY: Anna Nordseth already has an impressive resume: Honors Scholar, Dingledine Scholar, biology major with a concentration in ecology and environmental studies. She hopes to land a job some day in Costa Rica where she studied abroad.

Talk about your Honors Thesis.
I’m doing a review paper that looks at agri-forestry systems and how those systems maintain biodiversity and also carbon sequestration. So we want to look at carbon sequestration because global warming is such a huge deal right now and is being talked about at all levels, so we’re trying to look at agriculture and especially how sustainable agriculture contributes to that discussion in a positive way.

Do you hope to head to Brazil next?
I do. I’m a biology major, and I have an ecology and environmental concentration. I’m really interested in tropical conservation. If you look at the news at all, Brazil is huge in tropical forest ecology largely because of deforestation. Studying in Brazil would be a really good opportunity to get my foot in the door, start networking with other researchers there, and also to get a strong sense about what it would actually be like to have a career somewhere such as Brazil.

Do you have a favorite JMU professor?
I met my current adviser and research mentor Dr. Heather Griscom shortly after I started looking into research labs because I knew that I wanted to do research as an undergraduate. I joined her lab at the end of my freshman year and then took her forest ecology class my sophomore year, and she made all the difference in the world to me in terms of my academic direction. 

Talk about how you met Dr. Griscom.
I went into her office as a freshman—I had no idea at all what research actually entailed and I went into the field of biology thinking a career in medicine because that’s what you learn in high school—and then I went on her home page and saw that she did work with trees, and ever since then we’ve had this amazing process in which she leads, and then I scramble off trying to figure out where I want to go with things. She has been really supportive and helpful during my entire academic journal, helping me find internships and guiding my research that I do with her, and really just helping me learn the ropes so that eventually I can become a research ecologist or a field ecologist. 

Do you have any interest in being a professor some day?
I am interested in teaching, but also I really want to do some kind of non-governmental organization work. The bottom line is that I want to do whatever I can do that has the most impact. With teaching you can reach a lot of people, and then with the NGO work you can do so much hands-on, on-the-ground type of work. I love the idea of both of them. 

Would you call JMU a good choice?
The opportunities that I’ve had during my time here have given me a focus and shaped what I want to do. Obviously finding Dr. Griscom has been huge for me, and then I got the Hillcrest Hinshaw-Daniels Scholarship my sophomore year which allowed me to afford to study abroad in Costa Rica for two and a half months. Basically, JMU has changed my entire life. I don’t think I could be any more grateful.

Anna Nordseth measuring a tree

Published: Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, August 17, 2017

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