Getting Involved in Research

During college, everyone talks about getting involved in this or that club and how to make the most of your time here before entering the professional world. This semester, two of our very own Peer Advisors, Becca and Tai, are participating in research through Environmental Design and Geography.


Becca is currently a research assistant with Assistant Professor Danielle Rivera who has a PhD in Urban Planning and a Masters of Architecture. Her current research revolves around planning in relation to Puerto Rican communities and how Post-Hurricane Maria has affected them.

Becca meets with Danielle once a week and is working on data collection and infographics which support Danielle’s work of analyzing the environmental justice and gentrification of Puerto Rico. Becca got involved with this research through the ACE advisor who specializes in internships for ENVD, ENVS, and Geography students, Nate Jones. Becca was seeking an internship, but landed a paid research assistant position just by meeting with Nate and discussing her passion for urban planning and environmental justice issues.

Becca joined Danielle this January and is focusing mainly on how the hurricane has affected the Puerto Rican society. She loves that she gets to plan her own hours and meet one-on-one with an informed professor to gain insight into current urban planning issues. Be on the lookout for Becca’s blog post on her personal experience with Post-Hurricane Maria research.


Tai, a junior in Geography, is also doing research, but deals with issues a little closer to home. He is working with the Geography department and INSTAAR, an institute that is focused on environmental research in arctic and alpine environments,. Once a week for 8 hours per  day, he skis in at 5 AM to the Mountain Research Station above Ward Colorado to analyze snow. A typical day for Tai includes digging snow pits in one of the two sites and looking at the different layers in the snowpack to analyze the shape and size of the grains. He then performs density cuts with a cutting block and weighs the snowpack to get an idea of how much water the snow contains.

This research is part of a long-term ecological site on Niwot ridge where the data will be used for the assessment of changing climate conditions and data repository of how the snowpack is changing over the decades.

Tai heard about this opportunity through one of his hydrology professors who advertised the internship during one of his lectures. Tai and 6 other interns were chosen for this research for course credit. Despite the early hours and cold work, Tai loves this work because he gets to contribute to a long-term scientific study and be able to enjoy the outdoors even in the wintertime.

There are research opportunities available in ENVD, ENVS, and Geography, so always be on the lookout if you are interested in diving into work that impacts the world around you!


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