“I have known I wanted to work in the environmental field most of my life due to the fact that I was raised under Indigenous spiritual traditions,” said Johanna Batterton ’21. “I found out about environmental engineering in my honors environmental science class in 7th grade, and, from then on, I knew that this is what I had to do.”
Batterton is now attending Northwestern University to pursue a master’s in environmental engineering, the next step towards achieving her 7th-grade dream.
“As nerdy as this sounds, I am just so excited to learn more about how our environment works and especially how it moves and reacts to anthropogenic activities,” she said. “Something I really like about Northwestern’s research is that many professors focus their research on understanding the intricacies of the pathways in the environment in order to make more holistic solutions… After the first quarter this fall, I will decide which professor in the department I connect with the most, research-wise, and start reading research papers for them in the winter quarter!”
As a chemistry major and an environmental studies minor, Batterton feels very prepared to take on her master’s program and thesis.
“I want to emphasize this again for anyone considering environmental engineering in the future, do not be discouraged that you aren’t an engineering undergrad!” she said. “Throughout the application process I talked to many professors and professionals who all agreed that I have a great advantage having a strong chemistry background… Haverford also definitely prepared me to be a strong candidate with the vast amount of research opportunities made available to me throughout my years. After independent research with Professor Helen White starting my first-year summer, which involved two fieldwork seasons, “Superlab,” and thesis, I feel very confident walking into any laboratory in graduate school.”
Batterton also took advantage of the Tri-Co Consortium by taking an environmental engineering course at Swarthmore that taught her more about the field and gave her the confidence to pursue the career path.
After graduating from Northwestern, Batterton wants to continue to be a steward and advocate for the environment while using her scientific knowledge and passion for human connection. She wants to make sure this work always centers on environmental racism, particularly the equality and sovereignty of Indigenous people.
“I am grateful to have been taught to understand there are no definite truths, even in science,” she said. “I was given a framework to think about science in a social world, especially in the class ‘Decolonizing Science and Technology’ with Carla Dhillon at Bryn Mawr, and I hope to apply these lessons throughout my academic and professional career in the STEM world.”
For any other Haverford students considering a master’s degree or career in environmental engineering, Batterton is more than willing to give advice about the field and help them find resources.
“I had to make many many calls and zooms and hours of research on my own, and if I can give any advice to make other people’s process less stressful, I am more than willing to do so!” she said. “Keep on pushing, this field is so very important today!”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series chronicling the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.