By Julia Kern ’14
College Relations Intern
Two summers ago, a group of seasoned doctoral students gathered in a lab at the University of Bern to conduct never-before-done research about the hydrogen isotopic composition of methane. Joining them was Schreyer Honors College Scholar Hailey Mitchell, a meteorology major who, at the time, was only half-way through her undergraduate education.
"Leading up to the research, I thought I'd be working with graduate students – but my colleagues turned out to be post-docs. I guess you could say it was a bit of a surprise," Hailey joked.
To someone with half as much positive energy, the challenge might have seemed formidable. But according to Hailey's thesis adviser, Dr. Todd Sowers, a senior research associate in the Department of Geoscience, Hailey rose to the occasion and did a "bang-up" job.
"It did wonders for my confidence to be able to know that I could succeed in that kind of rigorous environment," Hailey said.
The research Hailey did in summer 2011 in Switzerland would eventually lay the groundwork for her thesis, which looks at the concentration and isotopic composition of methane trapped in ice cores in Antarctica and Greenland.
Hailey likens the research to tree rings. By looking at the concentrations, scientists can find out what causes their changes, such as growth in wetlands or major weather events.
The issue sparked Hailey's interest when she began working as a sophomore with Dr. Sowers on a project about atmosphere and biosphere interactions.
As a meteorology major with an environmental meteorology option, Hailey's multi-disciplinary major has her taking classes in meteorology, civil engineering, geography and environmental studies.
But as it was in Switzerland, a lot of Hailey's learning experiences have been outside of the classroom, and for that matter, outside of the United States.
Read the full story on the Schreyer Honors College news site.