February is a short month and one that has moved quickly! But before the month is over, we would like for you to get to know Jennifer Ellis, a graduate student in the Department of Geography and the Environment. She received her undergraduate degree in Wildlife Conservation/Biology in 2003 from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. At UNT, she's working on her master's degree, studying with Dr. Alexandra Ponette-González. In addition, Jennifer is currently a Teaching Assistant for GEOG 1710 Earth Science, assisting two lecture sections and overseeing one lab section.
Jennifer discovered her academic interests long after high school and her first attempt at an undergraduate degree. After working several odd jobs, she met a friend of a friend who was working in a zoo as a wildlife biologist. She found the work fascinating and a year later, she was back in school. Jennifer chose UNT for several reasons - she grew up in Denton and the university has always been in her back yard, so to speak. She had looked into various programs that UNT offered and knew it was a top-notch school for the pursuit of research in most fields. Initially, Jennifer was interested in the environmental science program but after speaking with Dr. Ponette-González, she found out that she has been a geographer at heart all along. Dr. Ponette-González's work studying atmospheric interactions combined with Jennifer's love of birds led to a very interesting project for her thesis - Particulate Matter Deposition to Urban Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) Feathers.
For Jennifer, the best part about being a graduate student at UNT is the wonderful group of people she has met and all the professors who have been really supportive and helpful. She has learned a lot of lessons along the way and has this to offer to prospective graduate students: "Don't stop. You must keep at it and not let the setbacks stop you. Graduate studies are definitely a different experience and atmosphere than undergrad. Ask for help when you need it. Know that others are feeling the exact same way." With these words of advice, Jennifer is primed for the future. She hopes to find work where she can apply her experience in wildlife conservation, research, and geography to any number of fields. She would particularly like to work, if not directly, in conservation or habitat management (government, private, or non-profit), then with some aspect of renewable energy exploration or development. She is also interested in being involved with preserving natural habitats in urban environments.
Some fun facts about Jennifer! She has a son and daughter, 9 and 7 years old, who are both growing up so quick. She has a wood-strip sea kayak kit in her garage that has been waiting a very long time to be built (right now, it's just a frame). She and her family plan to take a long trip in their RV as soon as she is finished with school and she and her husband are also planning a trip to Dublin, Ireland with friends at some point in the year. With Jen being a long-time Denton resident, she has some insights on the fun things to do in Denton. She considers the downtown square and area a not-so-hidden gem. She loves walking around there with her family for food, treats, and coffee. Jennifer and her husband especially love to visit the various new microbreweries popping up in town and just hanging out, especially when the outdoor patios are open and the food trucks are out. Take it from Jennifer - the downtown square is a great place to visit, providing a nice way to relax (plus, you only have to park your car once), especially from studies.