1 in 950: Isobel Whitcomb ‘17

Maureen Cowhey ‘19

Staff Writer

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Hometown: Ashland, Oregon

The Scripps Voice: What are you studying?

Isobel Whitcomb: I’m a biology major, and I study ecology, population dynamics and conservation biology. I’m really interested in evolution, particularly extinction and diversification, but this is a recent interest of mine, so I haven’t yet had much of an opportunity to focus on it.

TSV: Have you always been interested in biology?

Isobel: During grades 4-8, I was homeschooled, and I was allowed to study whatever I wanted (and not study the subjects I didn’t like). I actually hated biology and science with a passion, and mostly ignored those subjects. At my public high school,  found out that I actually liked science, and for a long time I wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t get interested in environmental sciences until I got to Scripps.

TSV: What is your dream job?

Isobel: My dream job would be to host a popular NPR science/environment podcast. I’m really obsessed with RadioLab and Hidden Brain, as well as a bunch of non-science related podcasts. I’m actually applying to grad school in scientific journalism, so if I’m lucky, I might head in this general direction.

TSV: Who is your favorite author and/or book? Why?

Isobel: My favorite author is Barbara Kingsolver, especially her books Prodigal Summer and Flight Behavior. Both these books are about people but have an environmental, science-y lens. Prodigal Summer is about a female scientist who marries into a family of farmers in Appalachia, and the clash between old and new in the community. Flight Behavior is about how a poor farming community is affected when, due to global warming, a flock of monarch butterflies migrates to their town instead of to Mexico. Kingsolver is a PhD in biology, and it was after I found this out that I first realized that I could combine my science background with my love for reading and writing.

TSV: What have you always wanted to try?

Isobel: I have always wanted to go on a long distance bike tour, because it’s something my parents did together (they biked across the entirety of the British Isles, Greece, and New Zealand) and I’ve grown up listening to their stories. I’m planning on doing a smaller month-long bike tour next year before grad school.

TSV: What other clubs or activities are you involved in?

Isobel: I have a column at the Scripps Voice, I’m a blogger for CP&R, and I work in Doctor Thomson’s lab at Keck doing research on drought and fire dynamics in native plant communities.

TSV: What are you interests and hobbies outside of school?

Isobel: My interests are building connections with others, road biking, reading, creative writing, and trail running.