Undergraduate Natalie Cist Shines in Multiple Roles with Team Bedrock


Posted: December 5, 2023

Undergraduate Natalie Cist Shines in Multiple Roles with Team Bedrock

Dickinson College undergraduate Natalie Cist has been on both the BCZN field team and the education and outreach team. She has been outstanding in both roles.

Natalie Cist is a senior at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. She started working with the BCZN team the summer after her sophomore year of college, when her professor, Team Bedrock PI Jorden Hayes, asked if she wanted to join the team in Georgia & South Carolina the upcoming summer. After hearing what the project was and learning that her friend was doing it too, she couldn’t wait to get started.

Once in the field, she had a great time learning from graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who not only showed her the ropes, but helped her understand what post-undergraduate research life could look like. She had a great time putting her skills to use in the field, utilizing her abilities in GIS to make maps for the team. That being said, Natalie did experience a steep learning curve.

“I had only taken 2 semesters of [earth science] classes so far, so I had to learn the lingo on the fly about soil horizons and geomorphology” she said

But learn she did. According to Dr. Hayes, Natalie developed “a depth of understanding achieved through research and field experience”, something that catapulted her into the next phase of the BCZN’s work.

Over a year later, Dr. Hayes approached Natalie again, this time asking if she wanted to help design one of the BCZN’s biggest outreach efforts - workshops on Critical Zone science for K-12 educators. Natalie’s field experience, in addition to her immense creativity and passion for education, showed Dr. Hayes her ability to “translate key scientific concepts to a very broad audience”, something integral to science outreach.

Natalie is now spearheading an integral part of the workshop - a mini documentary about work that the BCZN did at Panola Mountain State Park in Georgia, where Natalie did fieldwork almost two years ago. It’s a story about what interdisciplinary research looks like in practice, and Natalie has been reliving her experiences by interviewing some of the researchers who were there with her that summer.

“I've gotten to reconnect with people I haven't talked to in 2 years and hear about how they have wrapped their heads around the data that we collected”

The documentary will not only be shown to educators during the workshop, but will be accessible for them afterwards so they can show it to their students.

Overall, Natalie has excelled in every role she's had with Team Bedrock. “Natalie is an absolute joy to work with”, Dr. Hayes shared this week, “and she brings a very helpful perspective to our project”.

We wish Natalie the best in whatever she decides to pursue after graduation!