Caroline Amelse ’17

When Caroline Amelse was at the University of Hawaii, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in social work, she never thought that one day she’d be presenting her research at the largest gathering of geologists in the world. But in San Francisco this December that’s exactly what the 27-year old geology major will be doing.

She also never imagined she’d receive the 2016 David E. Lumley Young Scientist Scholarship, presented by the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest professional organization of earth scientists, astronomers, and oceanographers.

“This is a huge honor,” said Caroline, who was selected for the award as a result of research she conducted through URI’s Coastal Fellows program, a unique initiative designed to involve undergraduate students in addressing current environmental problems. Her study focused on foraminifera—tiny shelled creatures that live in marine sediment. Researchers interpret prehistoric changes in climate and sea level based on variations in the abundance and species of fossilized foraminifera found in layers of sediment.

Caroline’s goals include graduate school and a career that integrates her knowlege in geology and social work, examining the human impact of geology and climate change, perhaps focusing on geohazards—geological conditions that might lead to widespread damage—or hydrogeology. She envisions working overseas for a humanitarian group or government agency.

“There are a lot of people in countries around the world that don’t have as many resources as we do,” she said. “As global warming happens, it creates all kinds of changes to the environment, and I’d like to help understand and mitigate those changes for people in those countries.”