Catching Up With an Alumna
Hometown: Calhan, CO
Education history: B.A., Biology, Colorado College
M.S. Land Resources & Environmental Sciences, Montana State University
Dissertation Title: Biogeochemical Processes in Antarctic Aquatic Environments: Linkages and Limitations
Ever wonder what it's like to explore Antarctica?
Dr. Vick-Majors conducted research in Antarctica as an MSU graduate student and shared a first-hand account of the experience in this podcast. Click here to listen. She was part of the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Read the NSF news release about the team's insights into Antarctic subglacial lakes.
In Her Own Words
About Her Research
“My dissertation research focused on environmentally-important processes carried out by microorganisms (bacteria and archaea) in Antarctic lakes and the ocean. Most of these environments are buried deep under ice, and as a consequence, are poorly studied. Research on these waters helps us understand what is happening in Antarctica as climate change increasingly threatens the life-sustaining processes that Antarctica’s ice and oceans mediate. At the same time, ice-covered habitats can serve as excellent analogues for icy planets and moons that may host life away from Earth. As we learn more about how life thrives in the Antarctic, we are better able to predict where we might find it in the universe.”
Moving on to a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
“I will be joining the Aquatic Ecology group at the University of Quebec, Montreal, as a Postdoctoral Fellow. My research there will focus on the carbon cycle and microorganisms in the boreal forests of northern Quebec. These forest ecosystems are facing big changes, both due to climate change and to increasing hydroelectric development to support growing populations in southeastern Canada and the Northeastern US. At MSU, I had the opportunity to study carbon and microorganisms in a variety of aquatic environments and to build a strong record of publications, both of which helped me to secure the postdoc of my choice.”
If I knew then what I know now…Dr. Vick-Major’s advice to future graduate students
“Expect to feel like you don’t know what you are doing – it’s ok! That is part of why you’re going to school, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Don’t pretend you know it all, all the time. Let yourself ask questions, and have fun with it. Choose your school carefully, and do your best to make sure that your advisor is someone that you can work with closely for the next few years. Make sure that you will be supported, financially and emotionally, and don’t go somewhere that you won’t! Finally, stick to it – perseverance is more than half the battle.”