Tabea Zimmermann’s ’15 thirst for knowledge has taken her across the country and the sea. An environmental-science major and Baird Sustainability Fellow who worked at the College Farm and for ALLARM and studied abroad in Cameroon, she was the first Dickinson student to be awarded an EPA-GRO fellowship, an honor that designates her as an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-recognized “future environmental leader.” With this funding, she studied at the Marine Biological Lab and worked with top scientists in Newport, Oregon. Read about the interests that drive her research and why she believes that slowing down is important.
Clubs and organizations:
On choosing a major:
I grew up always playing outside, exploring under rocks and in treetops, and hiking with my family. My favorite classes in school were always math and science, because I could ask lots of questions and discover new things about the world around me. A high-school program focused on environmental science sold me on the subject, and I knew that was what I wanted to continue studying. I see environmental science as connecting people with the places in which they live. It asks the question: How can humanity and nature coexist?
On studying off-campus:
I spent two semesters studying off-campus. I explored Cape Cod beaches and cranberry bogs during the fall 2013 semester, learning lots of science from top scientists in biogeochemistry. The best part of studying in Cameroon [in spring 2014] were my two families: the Temgouas, with whom I lived, and the Dickinson students, with whom I explored, studied, got lost, danced, cried and laughed during my five months abroad.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
My time in Cameroon taught me to slow down and talk more. Five years from now, I’ll remember the long conversations I had with strangers in taxi cabs while stuck in traffic, not the times I stayed up really late writing papers.
As a kid, I wanted to be …
… a park ranger or naturalist.
About my internships:
This past summer I worked on a research project with the EPA in Newport, Ore. I wanted to continue working in aquatic ecosystems, and I also wanted to explore a U.S. region I’d never seen. My mentors supported my project while also letting me jump in and learn about other research happening at the lab. During that time, I solidified many of the scientific-research skills I began acquiring last fall in Woods Hole. I learned that one research question always leads to more and that the process of science is never over. Most important, I learned to identify when I needed help and to advocate for myself when I was stuck with my project. Science is very collaborative—it requires lots of teamwork and open communication.
I also worked at the College Farm and with the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM). Both of my internships at Dickinson were excellent experiences; I highly recommend them to students looking for challenging and rewarding job opportunities.
Little known hobbies:
I still love playing my recorder, which my dad taught me when I was 6 years old.
Published April 24, 2015