Getting here:

When my mother and I were driving around Maine touring colleges I wasn’t expecting COA to be one of the stops. We only decided to visit after a particularly bad tour at another college. As soon as we arrived on campus, it was clear to me that COA was different. We walked around - to the small pebble beach, through the dorm area known as the village, across the big front lawn, and down the path towards the buildings and grounds shed. I saw a space that I could imagine myself being in for the next four years, and one that I was excited to be a part of.


  • The Geology of Mount Desert Island
  • Geographic Information Systems: Foundations & Application
  • Biology I & II
  • The History of Natural History
  • Introduction to Economics and the Economy
  • Natural Resources
  • Graphic Design Studio: Visual Communications
  • Chemistry I
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Fire: Science and Policy
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Quantitative Geomorpholoy

So far I’ve tried to shape my curriculum with the goal of gaining a well rounded knowledge in the the earth sciences and also life sciences. Next term I plan to take Ornithology, Oceanography, and Climate and Weather.


Favorite class:

I have a few favorite classes, it’s really difficult to pick just one. If I had to pick three, they would be Rocks & Minerals, Fire: Science and Policy, and Quantitative Geomorphology.

Rocks & Minerals was wonderful because we were constantly out in the field hunting for cool stuff to identify. Our field studies culminated in a two day field trip during which we visited several quarries, and a lab with lots of complicated equipment used to look at the molecular and chemical structures of minerals. We collected rock and mineral samples along the way - my favorite samples are some pyrite and watermelon tourmaline.

Fire: Science and Policy is a class I’ve really enjoyed because it’s introduced me to a world I’ve been interested in for a long time. I’ve learned loads about the infrastructure of the Forest Service and wild-land fire crews.

Quantitative Geomorphology has been a challenging class this term because I’ve had to wrap my head around a lot of math, something that I haven’t enjoyed in the past. But refining my math skills by using subject matter I love has been incredibly rewarding.


I studied the Leach’s Storm Petrel on Great Duck Island for my internship. Great Duck Island is a 2km long 1km wide island 12 miles off the coast of MDI. It can be reached via boat on days when the weather is nice and the seas aren’t too rough. I spent a summer out there studying habitat preference in the Leach’s Storm Petrel which is a small black pelagic bird that burrows underground to lay its eggs. I was curious about whether or not they prefered the forested habitat over the field habitat. By deploying game cams, checking their burrows by hand, and setting sticks in front of their burrows which would alert me to their comings and goings I measured their burrow density, burrow occupancy, and hatching success rates. I concluded that the Leach’s Storm Petrel does not prefer either type of habitat. However, if I had continued the study I might have found that they had a preference for forested areas. 

A Leach's Storm Petrel Chick on Great Duck IslandA Leach's Storm Petrel Chick on Great Duck Island Credit: Gemma Venuti

Senior project:

I’m not sure what I’d like to do for my senior project, but I think I want to study the interactions between geology and biology in caves. 

Activities, traditions, celebrations:

My favorite events at COA are fire side Friday, Wednesday, and Sunday. I’m hoping that in the future there will be a fireside Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday as well.

Fireside is held in Deering Commons (the student centre). There’s always coffee, tea, cookies, and sometimes faculty members.

Outdoor Orientation Program

The boat we were sailing in was much bigger than this one!The boat we were sailing in was much bigger than this one! Credit: Jenna Farineau

My Outdoor orientation trip was sailing along the coast of maine with 7 other students. We had a lot of adventures along the way, my favorite being swimming in the bioluminesence of Maine’s freezing waters.

Work Study

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Lab and Teacher’s Assistant

One of my goals coming into college was to learn GIS and how to make maps both on the computer and by hand. I took the GIS class in the first term of my first year and continued making maps after finishing the course. Now it’s my job to help other students learn GIS and to help professors with any maps they’d like to have for their classes. The programs we use in the lab are ArcMap and QGIS. 

 A 3D Map of Mount Desert IslandA 3D Map of Mount Desert Island

Passions & motivations:

Geobiology, Making Maps, and Collecting Rocks

Adventures yet to come:

I hope to be an explorer when I’m out of college both in the modern sense and old. I expect I’ll explore the world by continuing to practice Human Ecology through cross disciplinary studies, but I’d also like to travel to remote places to see strange and wonderful things. I’ve recently decided that I either want to be caver or a deep sea geologist - but I have an ongoing list of future professions.

Best meal on campus:

Fancy Mac and Cheese