Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Ballor

Each summer, several students have the opportunity to learn more about their field of study (and themselves) by doing internships, research jobs, or REUs (Research Experience for Undergraduates). We will be highlighting their enriching summer experiences periodically.

Name: Elizabeth Ballor
Major: Environmental Science, Policy and Management concentration
Minor: Biology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Year: Senior
Type of summer program: Full-time Independent Research (Internship)
Location: Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL), Gothic, Colorado
Summary of  project: A focus on the presence or absence of nitrate and ammonium across topography in a Colorado mountain watershed.
Describe a typical day: The day started out for the undergrads by having breakfast and packing a lunch for the field at 9500 feet. The research group consisting of undergraduates, research assistants, graduate students and scientists carried equipment and hiked out to the field site. The field site was surrounded by amazing views of the mountains and bordered by a river. Equipment was set up, and different types of samples were collected. Lunch was filled with beautiful views and scholarly discussions. At the end of the day, presentations were given by visiting speakers or scientists at the RMBL. Cricket was played on Wednesdays.
3 things the student learned about their field:
  • Field work is a mental and physical test-weather, mishaps or tedious tests can be exhausting.
  • Science is cooperative and collaborative- help was available and so were others with ideas.
  • Science is interdisciplinary-you can learn from a scientist with a different background–they may have a different perspective.
3 things the student learned about themself:
  • Elizabeth enjoyed field work-even when it was hot and full of biting flies.
  • She can persevere through challenges-she hiked close to 14,000 feet even with her mild fear of heights.
  • She built her confidence by meeting tons of cool and positive people, performing independent research in the field in rain, shine or flies!