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Interview with Stephanie Spera

Stephanie Spera— Geology ’10, Washington University in St. Louis ‘11

Research Project:  The Awakening: The geological implications of a volcanic event after a period of dormancy at Mount Ngauruhoe

Stephanie is currently a PhD student at Brown University

Was the Frontiers Abroad experience what you expected?
Frontiers Abroad was more than I expected. Not only was I constantly learning, being challenged, and challenging myself, but I was also having a great times, and accomplishing things (i.e. both mapping and hiking up Mount Ngauruhoe) that I honestly didn’t think I could do. Going on Frontiers Abroad was one of the highlights of my college experiences.

What was your favourite part of Frontiers Abroad?
The people I met on the program. The instructors (Darren, Anekant, Dan etc.) are so supporting and want you to learn while having a great time. And, the people on my program were an amazing, hilarious group, and still some of closest friends and we make time to see each other despite living on different coasts.

What was your favourite aspect of New Zealand?
New Zealand is phenomenal. Everything is beautiful, and there are so many opportunities to do things outdoors. But I loved traveling around both islands, hiking, camping, kayaking, and meeting new, friendly people.

How did Frontiers Abroad contribute to your career goals / pathway?
During my semester abroad at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, I was able design and undertake a research project with both geologic and sociological components. I completed a research project on the volcanic hazards associated with a new eruption at the young andesitic stratovolcano Mount Ngauruhoe. My research project emphasized the importance of communication between scientists, politicians, and the general population: a theme I plan to expand upon in my future research.

What aspects of the Frontiers Abroad experience did you see as defining moments / achievements?
Having never done any mapping before going on Frontier Abroad, putting together that map of Castle Hill Basin was a huge accomplishment, and I still have it on my wall, because it was the first structural map I’d ever made.

In a few words discuss the influence Frontiers Abroad has had on your accomplishments.
The semester long research project greatly prepared me for the senior thesis I did when I returned from studying abroad. While in New Zealand, I was given the opportunity to do so many new things and I realized I was capable of a lot more than I initially thought, so now I’m less hesitant to try new things.