Richmond is the kind of place where students are encouraged to think creatively and explore topics and opportunities that interest them. And because of the close professor/student relationships, often a single class or mentor can inspire a student’s path.

In the case of biology major Rachel Lantz, ’19, she took a field ecology class as an elective with professors Amy Treonis and Kristine Grayson and embraced an opportunity to travel to Belize — officially setting her path as a future PhD.

“It really broadened my understanding of ecology and helped me see what issues connected to sustainability look like in different parts of the world,” Lantz said.

From there, she spent seven weeks in Colorado with professor Carrie Wu researching the mountain monkey flower and how isolated populations might be negatively affected by climate change. Another class with landscape ecologist Todd Lookingbill took her to both the James River watershed and the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon.

What’s next? Lantz said she plans to work as a research or field assistant after graduation and then pursue a doctorate in ecology or evolutionary biology.

We’re proud that Richmond is the kind of place where an elective course can inspire a student’s future!

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