Haverford alumni routinely travel all over the planet, but a Ford in the Arctic might be a first. Starting this summer, Max Findley will be working for the aquatic geochemistry laboratory at the University of Michigan, which will require him to travel to Toolik Field Station, a research base in the far north of Alaska, to collect and analyze samples.
“Every summer, increasing amounts of permafrost melt and re-introduce trapped nutrients into global cycles,” says Findley. “So understanding the chemical nature of permafrost and Arctic waters will be critical to understanding how global climate change will affect the whole planet.”
Findley has always wanted to go into environmental research, but his work with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Helen White introduced him to the fields of geochemistry and oceanography. During his time at Haverford, he worked on pollutants and how they affect marine ecosystems, especially the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and that of DDT in a Delaware estuary.
A double major in history and chemistry, Findley brings more than just a technical understanding to his upcoming research. “History at Haverford routinely challenged me to imagine science as a cultural construct, something that both guided and influenced culture,” he says. “I’m convinced that good science does not consist of what you discover, but rather how you discover it. If, in 500 years, someone looks back on your work and can admire the logic of your experiment, that is good science.”
—Jack Hasler ’15
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.