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Student Snapshot: Hannah Findling ’20

Hannah Findling

During her four years at Dickinson, Hannah Findling ’20 (biology, food studies) has explored the natural world in vivid, hands-on ways. As an intern at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, she helped deliver routine medical and therapeutic treatments and daily care to seven Asian elephants, including a baby. As a study-abroad student in Australia, she snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, observing a sea turtle, cuttlefish and endangered corals in their natural habitat. And during a spring break class trip to Georgia, she assisted with a prescribed burn, completed gopher tortoise burrow surveys, caught an alligator snapping turtle and seined for local fish species. Hannah is also a student interviewer, tour guide and member of Pi Beta Phi and Dickinson’s equestrian team.


Ithaca, N.Y.


Biology, with a food studies certificate.

Clubs and organizations:

Office of Admissions (student interviewer), Dickinson Equestrian Team, Liberty Cap Society (tour guide) and Pi Beta Phi.


John Dickinson Scholarship.

Favorite movie:

Pacific Rim.

On choosing Dickinson:

I decided to attend Dickinson after falling in love with the campus values and focus on sustainability, and with the community that exists at Dickinson. Knowing I wanted to be a biology major, I was immediately attracted to the strong science program Dickinson has built as well as the opportunity to study abroad and take courses outside of the STEM field. As soon as I stepped foot onto campus, I immediately knew I had found my home for the next four years.

Favorite place on campus:

Tome balcony.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Chicken shawarma and salad at the KOVE!

Favorite professor:

My advisor, Associate Professor of Biology Scott Boback, has been instrumental in my development as a student and as a biologist. I’ve been so grateful for his guidance with my career path and in helping me learn animal care techniques and for the opportunity to work in his lab colony of boa constrictors. 

Favorite class:

Natural History of Vertebrates, also known as the infamous “roadkill class,” which I took in the spring semester of 2017. We were responsible for finding our own roadkill to use in preparing museum-quality skins and specimens for our final project. Additionally, our class took a field trip, over spring break, to Georgia, where we assisted with a prescribed burn, completed gopher tortoise burrow surveys, caught an alligator snapping turtle and seined for local fish species. This experience solidified my decision to be a biology major and exposed me to real-life field biology techniques while expanding my comfort zone.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a horse trainer and rehabilitator.

On studying abroad:

I spent my fall semester of 2018 studying at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The highlight of my experience was getting to snorkel and scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. I was fortunate enough to observe a sea turtle, cuttlefish and endangered corals in their natural and pristine habitat. I will never forget this experience, which reinforced the importance of global efforts to halt climate change and conserve these sensitive natural wonders.

Hannah Findling

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

… Amelia Earhart! Not only would I love answers as to the conspiracy surrounding her disappearance, I believe hearing her stories of adventure and pioneering spirit would be an incredible experience.

About my internship:

I interned in the summer of 2018 in the elephant department at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York. I spent my time working with seven Asian elephants, including a baby! During my time in this position, I learned the regular tasks required to maintain a herd of elephants (including daily baths, enrichment preparation, and lots of scooping poop). I also got to assist in routine medical and training procedures such as blood draws, therapeutic laser treatment and elephant foot care. My internship experience gave me new levels of comfort in a professional animal care setting and prepared me to interact with people from all walks of life and answer any questions they had regarding the care, treatment and ethics of maintaining elephant breeding programs in captivity.  

Post-Dickinson plans:

After Commencement in May, I’m planning on immigrating to Canada! I’ll be headed north to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where I can spend my days playing with puffins and spotting icebergs. 

About my research:

I’m working on an ongoing project on strike kinematics in boa constrictors. We are examining the velocities, timing, movement and angles observed in the snake’s body while it engages in strike-and-feed behavior. Professor Boback has been helping me to compile and analyze data and write my first professional article. Hopefully, I’ll be a published author within the next year!

In a perfect world … 

… humans would realize the catastrophic impact we have had and are currently having on our planet and would adopt immediate changes to move their own personal lives toward a place of more sustainable habits. These changes must be systematic and extend beyond the individual to corporate and governmental policy, but all improvement starts from the desire of each individual to lead a better and more sustainable life. 

Read more Student Snapshots.


Published January 30, 2020