Discovery in Environmental Sciences & Studies


Alongside their professors, students are helping make environmental discoveries to improve our understanding of the dynamic world we live in.

To learn more about environmental internships and other professional opportunities, contact the Weingart Center for Career and Professional Development.

Alina Bonto poses for a photograph.Wading into Research Waters

Alina Bonto sees the threat of rising sea levels and wants to understand its consequences for coastal plants.

Her research led her to where the marshes of Mississippi meet the Gulf Coast to conduct research on coastal plants. Bringing that work back to Whittier, Alina analyzed her findings and presented them at Whittier College’s annual undergraduate research day.

Encouraged by her results, she conducted a follow-up research excursion to Louisiana. 

Beyond Whittier, Alina plans to eventually earn a Ph.D. and become an environmental sciences research professor like her mentor, professor Cheryl Swift

“I love working with her,” Alina said. “She’s a great professor and very passionate.”

Matthew Voegtle and Professor Cinzia Fissore study a soil specimen in a laboratory.Research to Save the Forest

Matthew Voegtle is helping the world understand why the redwood forests are dying.

As professor Cinzia Fissore’s research assistant, Matthew sampled soils in the beautiful Los Padres National Forest. Back in the lab, he is analyzing them to better understand Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a disease that’s killing trees in the millions to date.

This critical work will both help combat SOD and improve Matthew’s graduate school career as he seeks his Ph.D. after graduation.

Manny Herrera setting up equipment under a tree for an environmental study.Hands-On Environmental Research

Before Manny Herrera began his research project examining the protection trees provide people from ultraviolet light, he had no idea he’d beaten hundreds of other students for this great opportunity.

But in fact, more than 400 of his peers across the country had applied for his coveted research spot. He learned that after joining the Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN) Undergraduate Research Program for the summer, a selective group of student researchers who study water in its many facets. The environmental network sent Manny to Arizona State University, where he teamed with a professor to study whether there’s a connection between how much water a tree uses and how much it protects people from ultraviolet light.

Manny has his own professor to thank for helping him stand out in a crowded application pool: environmental science professor Cinzia Fissore.

“What set me apart was I had a mentor like Cinzia Fissore who was really willing to look at my personal statement before I submitted them and really give me feedback on where I should improve upon or what I should highlight more,” Manny said. Spending his summer at one of the largest higher-ed institutions in the country, Manny could appreciate all the more how a small college like Whittier allowed him to forge a meaningful connection with his professor.

He not only left the UWIN program with new skills and knowledge, but the professional connections in the fields offered by the its network of scientists, as well. Manny has also built a relationship with ASU, where he may want to apply for a master’s or Ph.D. program down the line.