Summer Community of Scholars

Who's exploring forest ecology?

Hallie Westermann


Academic and Research Interests

I graduated from Clark in May of 2008 with an undergraduate degree in Global Environmental Studies. In my time in the Geography Department at Clark, my academic interests were mainly focused on the human-environment connections and the social and political impacts that we have on our natural environment, both here in the US, but also in the developing world. I am interested in how our ever-globalizing planet is changing and deteriorating, especially the myriad environmental factors at play as the third world develops and modernizes. In the future I would like to become a journalist, focusing on environmental issues for a major magazine or newspaper.

I took the research position with Professor Kulakowski last summer in Colorado mostly because I wanted the opportunity to hike in the beautiful Rockies and see friends that I knew in the area. Knowing nothing about the Mountain Pine Beetle or its far reaching effects across the American West, but with a keen interest in learning, researching, and spending time in nature, I dove in. During our evening fireside chats while in the field, I learned about the different aspects of the MPB outbreaks in Colorado. The history and scope of this issue is amazing to hear and read about, and even more amazing to see first hand as we hiked through black, charred, fallen trees and hillsides of red-needled, dying lodgepole pine trees. What interested me the most were the social and political dynamics that have arisen from this natural occurrence. It became evident that there was a serious disconnect between the scientific data collected by researchers, and the information that was being portrayed to the public, and in turn, the local and national political decisions being made. I hope that I can use my knowledge from this summer and my passion and skill for writing, to build an article for a magazine or newspaper about the MPB issue and its social and political implications. I believe that through effective communication, a strong and necessary bridge can be built between the academic and scientific jargon, and the practical social changes that the average citizen can make in this time of global climate change.

In addition to writing and journalism, I am passionate about education and environmental advocacy. I spent a summer working as a natural history day camp counselor at Worcester's Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary at Broad Meadow Brook, teaching kids about nature in New England, and hopefully instilling a sense of environmental stewardship at a young age. I continued my work with Mass Audubon during my senior year at Clark as an advocacy and education intern, helping to advertise the sanctuary and its programs, as well as working as a guide for local nature and culture tours. I also had the opportunity to work at the Worcester Regional Environmental Council as an assistant to the Executive Director. A large majority of my time there was spent promoting a Green-Up Campaign through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the National Grid Electrical Company to get people to sign up for clean energy options. This past year I also worked as a volunteer teacher for the Citizen Schools after school program, teaching an apprenticeship to middle schoolers about recycling and sustainability.


Outside of academic interests, I love to be outside—hiking and skiing in my hometown of Stowe, Vermont especially. I love to hang out, eat out with friends, read, and LOVE to travel and experience new cultures. I have been to Europe five times, Madagascar, Alaska, and am in the process of planning a cross country trip and adventure in South America for this fall. I have worked my way through college as a waitress, and was a member of Clark's Varsity Field Hockey team my sophomore year. In the near future I hope to integrate my passion for the environment and my passion for writing and pursue a Master's in Environmental Journalism and become and environmental journalist and/or travel writer. I am currently under contract with Africa Geographic Magazine for a feature length piece due out in June of 2009 that will cover a mining development that is underway in the city of Fort Dauphin, Madagascar where I lived for the majority of my time while studying there in 2006.


Advisor: Dominik Kulakowski