Your courses will be research-oriented, and you will receive specialized training typically available only to graduate students at large research-oriented institutions. As a major, you may get an opportunity to conduct field research in geology and archaeology at sites in the Florida Keys, Hawaii or the European Alps. Students regularly do field work in Central New York. You may conduct research with faculty members that leads to publication in a scholarly journal or presentation at a conference.

Nicole LaBarge ’15
Nicole LaBarge '15, right, talks about her research "Lead in Community Gardens" during a poster session.

A student’s evolution: turning toward science

Nicole LaBarge ’15 started Hamilton College ready to major in creative writing, took a class and scrapped that idea. That same semester she fell for archaeology, which surprised her a little. The bigger surprise was falling for geosciences – she’d never been keen on science.

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Then LaBarge layered on another interest - food systems. With advice and support from a range of professors, she figured out a way to balance all her new passions: She’s majoring in environmental science with a focus in geosciences and pondering an archaeology minor.

And she continues to try new things. The summer prior to her junior year, her  geosciences professor connected her with a summer project funded by a College Levitt Research Group grant. LaBarge worked with four other students to study lead levels in community gardens in the nearby city of Utica.

LaBarge feels good about having ventured into studies she wouldn’t have thought possible before she entered Hamilton. “So that makes me wonder what I might end up doing five years from now,” she says.

Mary Beth Day '07 on a just-for-fun visit to the Angkor temples in Cambodia, where she did research.
Mary Beth Day '07 on a just-for-fun visit to the Angkor temples in Cambodia, where she did research.

A graduate’s progress: earning a Ph.D.

Mary Beth Day ’07’s Hamilton College education inspired her to pursue a Ph.D. in earth sciences at Cambridge University. She is nearly done with her doctorate and hopes to explore a career in environmental consulting.

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Her senior year, Day became the first Hamilton student named to the USA Today All-USA College Academic team, which honors students who have excelled in coursework and extended their intellectual abilities beyond the classroom.

She went straight to graduate school at the University of Florida. In 2009, she was awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which allowed her to continue her graduate research at Cambridge.

Over the past six years, Day has studied the paleoenvironmental history of Cambodia using lake sediment records while completing  her master's and doctoral degrees.

“I think working in environmental consulting will provide a means to do work that is very much grounded in the ‘real world’, while still operating within the realm of human-environment interactions that has intrigued me since I decided to become a geoarchaeology major,” Day says.