Growing up, Elizabeth Plascencia ’16 was never far from the Los Angeles region’s breathtaking natural views—from mountain ranges to coastal cliffs and sandy shores. That inspiring environment sparked a passion for earth sciences and a dream she’s realizing as a Posse Foundation and National Science Foundation STEP scholar, Robert Allan Jansen Memorial Student-Faculty Research award recipient and study-abroad student who studied volcanoes in Iceland and Canada as part of an international student-faculty research team. Learn about her little-known talent as an amateur dolphin-whisperer, her love of longboarding and her key to a successful life.
On choosing a major:
I grew up in Los Angeles, Calif., admiring coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, perpetual earthquakes and towering mountains and that sparked my interest in learning how to protect the earth’s resources. I believe that in order to do that, we must first understand, respect, and learn from the earth systems. It’s rock solid from there.
Clubs and organizations:
Geological Society of Dickinson College (president), Department of Earth Sciences (research assistant, laboratory teaching assistant), Office of Global Study & Engagement (student assistant), WDCV 88.3 (DJ, executive board), The Peddler (barista), Department of Art & Art History (art model) and Social Justice House.
Posse Foundation scholarship, National Science Foundation STEP scholar and the Robert Allan Jansen Memorial Student-Faculty Research Award.
The most important thing I’ve learned so far:
If you’re curious, just ask. Dialogue is key.
Without a doubt, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences Benjamin Edwards. Ben is a mentor, educator, volcano climber, igneous petrologist and bear enthusiast. I began conducting research with Ben after my first year at Dickinson. My passion for the earth sciences has only grown through my interactions with him.
I spent the beginning of my first summer after freshmen year in Iceland with Ben Edwards, conducting pillow-lava research. Later that summer, I traveled with [Joseph Priestley Professor of Natural Philosophy] Marcus Key and three other Dickinson students to conduct research in Baffin Island, Canada, and I spent last summer in Northern British Columbia, Canada, conducting the second tier of pillow-lava research.
Any science textbook.
Across the Universe.
Favorite place on campus:
In an Adirondack chair on the academic quad.
Favorite Dining Hall food:
Egg-white omelet with extra spinach.
As a kid, I wanted to be …
… an astronaut. My dad still calls me “Astro” to this day. He jokes that, [because of my major,] he should start to call me “Rocky.”
I can mimic a dolphin whistle so well that once, while I was at SeaWorld, I was asked to stop, because I was confusing the animals. Prior to deciding on Dickinson, I was on my way to train for women’s downhill longboard racing. You can still catch me flying by on my longboard, on my way to Kaufman Hall.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …
… Ellen DeGeneres.
A perfect world is …
… environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
Published October 14, 2014