Above and Beyond

abbey fisler, abigail fisler,

Abbey Fisler ’17

Abbey Fisler ’17 routinely goes above and beyond to get the job done, beginning with her fourth-grade project on the state of Iowa—she traveled with her father from their home in California to the Midwest, so she could investigate the hawkeye state’s sustainable-energy efforts up close. That trip sparked an interest to follow her father’s footsteps in the renewable energy field, and she’s well on her way. An environmental studies major focusing on climate change and renewable energy, Fisler has interned in the field and also earned a scholarship to attend a national conference on ethanol, where she networked with industry professionals and attended lectures by experts in the field.


Environmental studies and Italian studies.

Clubs and organizations:

Alpha Phi Omega, Martial Arts Club, Circolo Italiano and Global Gastronomy Club.


Sons of Italy Scholarship, RFA Scholarship (to attend the 21st National Ethanol Conference), Müller-Peterson-Hach Internship Grant.

Favorite books:

Anything by Kurt Vonnegut; One Great Year by Tamara Veitch and Rene DeFazio; and the "Southern Reach" trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.

Favorite movies:

Dead Poet’s Society, The Matrix, Memento, The Breakfast Club, Almost Famous and any Alfred Hitchcock movie.

On choosing a major:

I actually changed my major from international studies to environmental studies my sophomore year. I originally thought I wanted to be an international lawyer, dealing with the environment, but after I took some courses I realized just how passionate I was about renewable energy and the policy relating to it. I was 8 years old when I visited my first renewable energy plant, and my interest has only grown from there. It was a natural choice to change my major to study renewable energy and the environment.

On choosing Dickinson:

First off, I definitely wanted to get out of California and have a new experience—don’t get me wrong, the weather is great there, but the East Coast has so much more history. Apart from that, I was looking for a liberal-arts college where I could pursue my passion for language and swimming. Dickinson has an amazing language program, especially Italian. Dickinson also had by far the best swim program that I saw, and Coach [Paul] Richards had a large part in that. At the time I didn’t know that I would be majoring in environmental studies, but I was still impressed with the department and all of the sustainable practices Dickinson is committed to, like the College Farm and Center for Sustainability Education.

Favorite place on campus:

The garden in front of Stern.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Sriracha chicken.

Post-Dickinson plans:

Right now, my hopes after graduation are to work in the renewable fuels industry for two years (whether it be at a company or lobbying in D.C.) and then going to graduate school to specialize further.

About my internship:

In summer 2014 I interned for California Ethanol and Power LLC. It appealed to me because I wanted direct exposure to the industry and how it works in practice. This internship showed me what the industry is like for a small producer and the steps required to even get to production. It was a pretty unique experience, because I got to follow every step of the process. Even though their ethanol plant isn’t operational, I learned a lot about marketing, how companies formulate their business plans, obtain grants and go through investor rounds. I also learned more about sugarcane and sweet sorghum ethanol. These were both new types of ethanol to me because I’ve mostly been exposed to corn ethanol and how that’s produced. Additionally, I attended the Fuel Ethanol Workshop Conference (FEW) on behalf of the company, where I learned even more about the renewable fuels and ethanol industry as a whole- both large and small producers.

In summer 2015, Fisler interned for Biochemtex in Italy, where she conducted research on renewable fuel.

How I got to go to the 21st National Ethanol Conference:

Last summer, after I attended FEW, I emailed Geoff Cooper from the Renewable Fuels Association, and he suggested I apply for the scholarship to attend The National Ethanol Conference (NEC). The RFA gives students who intend to pursue a career in the industry an opportunity to apply for a scholarship that would pay for hotel and entrance to the conference. The applicant pool is very competitive, and I never dreamed that I would be selected. I was actually eating lunch with my mother when I got the email; I just about jumped out of my chair.

About the conference:

This conference provides a great opportunity for anyone to expand their knowledge, but a starting foundation is usually helpful. Over three days there are 17 sessions on different aspects of the ethanol industry. And, of course, there are ample opportunities to network with people, which is helpful for me as I search for internships and a future job.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… my mother, Siddhartha Gautama (otherwise known as Buddha), Winston Churchill, Robin Williams, Leonardo da Vinci and Thich Nhat Hanh.

Biggest influence:

My parents, hands down. My dad has influenced my major choice and future career. My mother has just influenced me in every way possible. I think it’s pretty normal for a mother-daughter relationship to be very strong, but we’re really close. Now that I’m in college, she has become more of a best friend than a parent. Don’t get me wrong, she still parents, but I think at this point she hopes she’s done her job, and she treats me more like a peer. I’ve gotten a lot of life advice from her, and I wouldn’t be the same person without my parents and how they raised me, and I’m grateful for that.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

College has taught me that I’m capable of so much more than I originally thought possible. If you stop saying, “No, I can’t do that, because I don’t have enough time,” or you’re making up excuses for why you can’t do the things you’re passionate about, you realize you can accomplish a lot in a small amount of time. At the same time, you should never sacrifice quality for quantity, and caffeine does not replace sleep! I guess what I’m trying to say here is there’s a fine balance.

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Published October 6, 2016