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From Cold Spring, Minnesota, a small town of less than 3,000 people, Beth Beckel launched a life of adventure. One of her most recent adventures was as an intern at the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) in the summer of 2007.|
Beth enjoyed a ten week internship at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was mentored by Professor Jeffrey Collett, whose research involves cloud and precipitation chemistry, the role of clouds as processors of tropospheric particles and trace gases, and the impacts of atmospheric aerosol particles on regional visibility. Beth says "I've learned the basics of gas-phase atmospheric chemical sampling techniques and spent most of my summer learning about the mist chamber. I worked to set up an operational mist chamber here at CSU and spent a few weeks running it to determine optimal running conditions for sampling ammonia. Once optimal conditions were determined, I used the mist chamber to sample ambient (outdoor) air at the same time as a more established sampling method. The results from these runs will be compared to judge whether or not the mist chamber will be worthwhile for the lab to invest in for the future."
Beth was raised in Cold Spring, Minnesota by her mother, who is a nurse, and her father, who was a stay at home dad and is currently a children's librarian. Beth remembers her home being a place where she and her brother, along with their friends, gathered for stimulating conversations on a wide variety of topics. Beth's parents have always encouraged her to explore all of her interests, including musical theater, Girl Scouts, dog sledding, barefoot waterskiing, learning to speak Swahili, and canoeing.
While Beth has always had a wide variety of interests, she recalls an environmental science course in high school that changed her life's path. "The teacher was terrible but the class was challenging and interesting. I was assigned to debate the merits of nuclear energy, and I realized how great it was to explain the science to people, and help them make important decisions," Beth reminisces. This experience has developed into a passion for energy and the environment.
After graduating from high school as valedictorian, Beth attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and earned a BA in physics and a minor in mathematics and environmental studies. She traveled to Antarctica with the Polar Intern Research group and spent four months working as a dining attendant and studying waste management. She was impressed with the pristine and untouched state of Antarctica, and the solutions that can be gained from research.
Beth admits that the summer internship at CMMAP helped her to realize what kind of science she wants to pursue, and how to best impact the world.
She sees a career in making science accessible to communities who can then make informed decisions and life choices based on a better understanding of science. She plans to get a Masters degree that will enable her to "…be one person making a change in the world." But first, Beth is off to Tanzania to spend the fall of 2007 learning about sustainable agricultural methods, and then teaching rural farmers what she has learned. In her free time, she plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro when her father comes to visit.