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Way Beyond Books

Ivy Gilbert '18

Ivy Gilbert ’18 

During her first three years at Dickinson, Ivy Gilbert ’18 (English) led the college’s student-run coffee cart, the Peddler, for two years; curated a fossil guide for children; studied crabs and local ecology along the Chesapeake Bay; conducted geochemical analyses in Wyoming; and studied for two weeks in Canada, where she conducted environmental research while camping on sea ice. Now, she’s writing her English-major thesis on Angela Carter’s “Little Red Riding Hood” fable (“I have a soft spot for wolves”) and planning a career in natural history education and/or related curriculum development.


Granville, Ohio.



Clubs and organizations:  

Residence Life and Housing, the Norman M. Eberly Multilingual Writing Center, The Peddler, Trout Ambassadors, The Crescendevils.


Sustainability Award, Benjamin Rush Scholarship and tuition exchange.

Describe Dickinson in one sentence:

A playground for multitaskers.

Favorite book:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

Favorite movie:

Pokémon: The Movie 2000.

On choosing Dickinson:    

It was the combination of a mobile coffee cart, innovative sustainability initiatives and the kind support of my admissions counselor, Molly Boegel. My mom also loved the library and stressed the importance of going to a college that has an inviting workspace.

Favorite place on campus:

The limestone walls of Althouse, because they are covered in fossils!

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Mozzarella sticks.

On choosing a major:  

I declared English the second week of my first year at Dickinson because I was having a blast close reading Angela Carter in my 220 English course. Who knew that I would end up writing my thesis on these exact stories three years later? The earth sciences minor happened because I was in Pomfret Books [in downtown Carlisle] and saw an old copy of The Lost World. It reminded me of how much I loved paleontology. I walked over to the earth-sciences department later that week and declared my second major (now minor).

Favorite class/learning experience:

The Natural History Mosaic was by far my favorite learning experience at Dickinson. We traveled to the Chesapeake Bay to catch crabs and learn about local ecology, all while studying the impacts that small changes in the northern end of the watershed could have on the bay. We also traveled to Pittsburgh to explore museums and had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum. This experience combined my love for writing, biology, paleontology and out-of-the-classroom learning. After taking this Mosaic, I knew I had to follow my love for natural history into my professional career.

Ivy Gilbert '18


As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a paleontologist.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I am planning on working in a natural history museum or a botanical conservatory after graduation. I want to combine my love for science with writing and work with these nonprofits to create curriculum and engagement opportunities for children and young adults.

Little-known hobby/talent:

I can play guitar and ukulele, and I love to sing in front of people.

On studying abroad:

I went to Pond Inlet in Nunavut, Canada, for two weeks with members of the earth sciences department and camped on the frozen sea ice. The experience helped me to really understand my interest in ecology and the interactions between the earth sciences and the biological sciences. The highlights were learning how to camp and listening to a pod of Narwhals hunting through a hydrophone dropped in the ocean.

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

… Tom Hiddleston.

Proudest accomplishment: 

Working as the general manager for The Peddler for two years and curating a fossil guide for children who want to learn more about the Ordovician fossils that live in the limestone.

In a perfect world …

… people would read books with as much passion as they read social media feeds and live their lives more empathetically.

Biggest influence:

Not to be too cliché, but my mother. My love for the nonhuman world stems from our birding adventures and sitting in the backyard, reading books and talking about dystopian fiction. She also has shown me how to be a resilient woman and to embrace the unexpected.

About my research:

I am currently pulling together my senior thesis for my English major. I am researching the importance of the narrative voice in Angela Carter’s three retellings of “Little Red Riding Hood.” I get to bring together the cultural moment in which these stories were published and research the history of the folk tale to better understand why, in 2018, Angela Carter is still a relevant and worthwhile writer to study. I chose this topic because I am fascinated with the role that myth plays in identity construction and the liberating potential in rewriting these well-known stories. I also have a soft spot for wolves.

The summer before my junior year I worked alongside [Assistant] Professor [of Earth Sciences Jorden] Hayes in the earth sciences department to collect weathered rock samples from a research site in Laramie, Wyoming. We were interested in what was driving the breakdown of the local granite: chemical processes or physical processes? I wanted to work on this project because of the opportunity to learn how to conduct a geochemical analysis. During this experience, I learned a lot about what it means to be a scientist and how to ask questions that may not have conclusive results.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:  

To “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.” This Professor [of English] Wendy Moffat mantra has helped me challenge writer’s block and embrace the mess that comes with growing as a writer. It also is a fun image to hold in your mind when the last thing you want to do on a Sunday night is try and articulate an argument.

Read more Student Snapshots.


Published April 3, 2018