Q&A with Environmental Blogger and Upcoming Scientist Jessica Turner

Jessica Turner, author of Definearth and new graduate student. Image © Jessica Turner.

I am thrilled to bring you this Q&A with my long-time blogging friend Jessica Turner. Jess runs the fantastic blog Definearth. On it, she writes about a host of issues pertaining to water and environmental technology.

Jess is about to embark on a fantastic adventure: she is starting a master’s program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have no doubt that Jess has a promising career ahead of her, as she is both driven and intelligent.

I recently sent Jess a list of questions about her interests and plans. Below are her responses.

How did you first become passionate about the environment?

Swampy Buffalo, New York, where Jess grew up. Image © Jessica Turner.

I speak a little bit about where I grew up in my memoir, All I See Is Green, which you can find on my blog. It has a lot to do with adventures in the woods and going to long summer camps as a kid. I was lucky to have those experiences, but I have to say I’ve always been inclined to explore, even if it’s just around the neighborhood. Since then I have learned so many awesome things about the environment from plants and animals to climate science and even environmental ethics.

I love it all!

What made you decide to focus on water and environmental technology, specifically?

Water is fundamental to any community. A lot of people might say the center of a healthy community is family or education, and while that’s true, water is essential for life to exist.

Without a reliable supply of clean water, communities become reliant upon someone else to supply those basic needs and often won’t be able to prosper. I want to empower people by educating them on ways to clean their own water supply that will last them a very long time, so that they can focus on other things.

In the summer of 2017 you worked as a Research Assistant at Syracuse University. What was that research project about, and what was your role in it?

Last summer I worked on a project that studied the effects of ice storms in the Northern Hardwood Forest. These storm events are important because they could become more frequent as a result of climate change.

My role was to test groundwater samples for dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved organic matter (DOM) after the storm. In short, I tested rain water that soaked through the soil to see what kinds of decay the ice storm had caused. One neat thing I found was the presence of benthic, or lake-bottom material, in the groundwater. The project is ongoing.

Syracuse University, where Jess worked as a Research Assistant. Image © Jessica Turner.

What are you planning on studying at UW Madison? If you do not know exactly what you want to focus on for your master’s research, then what topics are you considering?

I’m studying Land Resources with climate scientist Dr. Ankur Desai at UW-Madison starting this summer. I have yet to pick a thesis topic, but there are so many good ideas! I’m hoping this summer will give me a chance to learn about the lab and the projects going on there before I have to come up with one of my own.

Jess, if you are reading this, thanks again for participating in this Q&A! Good luck in grad school; I know you will do great!

13 Thoughts

  1. It’s so encouraging to meet such a brilliant young woman with an intense desire to improve our environment that too many have chosen to ignore , its great learning a bit about you. Thank you for the intro Josh

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a wonderful interview. We’re so inundated with negative news and headlines all the time, that it’s incredible refreshing to read a post about someone doing good work for good reasons. Thanks so much for sharing – it’s balm for the soul to know there are smart and driven people out there fighting for our environment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The world is chock-full of great people doing great things. Part of what I want to do is generate some publicity for these people, and let readers know that the world isn’t as backwards as the media would have us believe.

      Jess is certainly one of the best though.

      Liked by 2 people

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