Environmental studies are incredibly important to the welfare of humanity and the world in which we live.  I have read articles from scientists comparing the Anthropocene extinction we are causing to popping rivets on an airplane.  You don’t know which rivet will cause the plane to crash, but it eventually will.  In the same way, the plane represents an ecosystem.  As we continue to drive species to extinction, we will eventually cause the ecosystem to collapse.

My specific interest in the environment stems primarily from my interest in insects.  Due to their great numbers, insects play an integral role in keeping ecosystems running smoothly.  They take on nearly every niche, both predators and prey, decomposers and parasites.  Unfortunately, many insects are at risk of extinction.  Unlike larger animals, insects aren’t as well-studied, and many species disappear before they are even discovered.  As an entomologist, I will try to describe as many of these species as possible and expand our knowledge of the species we do know.

 

Australia-A group photo in front of Uluru

Alex and the rest of his National Geographic group pose in front of famous Uluru during their time in the Outback.

There are many ways that I have been involved in environmental studies over the years.  Since I was five, I have nearly constantly been collecting insects.  Years down the road, my collection will serve as a database to help indicate how the environment has changed over time, as insects are some of the most effective bioindicators.  I have been a member of my school’s Save the Rainforest Club since I was a sophomore, and I am currently the club’s president.  In July of 2015, I traveled to Panama with other members of the club.  This trip taught us all a lot about the vast biodiversity of tropical regions and the threats that they face.  My most notable environment-related accomplishment was being selected to receive a full-ride scholarship to participate in a National Geographic Student Expedition trip to Australia in August of 2015.  I was a part of the Wildlife & Biodiversity On Assignment team.  We learned a lot about the natural, ecological, and environmental issues facing Australia today, and we had the opportunity to study alongside actual National Geographic scientists (we even got to survey animals on the Great Barrier Reef!).

I plan to further my studies in the environment by going to college and majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology.  From there, I plan on going on to earn my Masters and a PhD in Entomology.  I will use all of this education to become a professor at a university, where I can teach students about the amazing world of insects and their contributions to their ecosystems and our world.  I will also continue to search for and identify new species of insects, learn about their habitats, and find ways that we can prevent them from ever going extinct.  The Earth is in a delicate balance, and every creature has a role to play…even the smallest of insects.  It is our obligation to learn as much as we can to try to minimize our environmental impact.

Australia-Ziplining in the Daintree Rainforest (photo by Erica Scherer)

Alex taking in the biodiversity of the Daintree Rainforest from a whole new angle!