Adventure by Karine

CATEGORIES: News, Students
Student standing outside
Karine Holmes ('22 geology) outside Science Hall I.


Last summer, Karine Holmes (’22 geology) traveled to Alaska aboard the research vessel R/V Sikuliaq on a National Science Foundation-funded adventure. She collected samples, used sonar to map the ocean floor and contributed to national databases.

She also voyaged into a world of new possibilities.

“During the trip, I learned different ocean science research tactics and techniques while engaging with other scientists aboard about their research,” she said. “The trip inspired me to want to incorporate ocean science into my research one day.”

Group of student researchers on a ship
Karine Holmes (’22 geology) spent the summer aboard a National Science Foundation-funded research vessel with the STEMSEAS program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Student Experiences Aboard Ships).

A voyage of discovery

Holmes has been on a journey of discovery ever since she came to Iowa State. But she didn’t have to travel far to get here. Growing up in Ames, she wasn’t sure she wanted to stay for college. Once she arrived on campus though, everything changed.

“Every day I experienced something new, and it felt as though I was in some place totally different,” she said.

Holmes knew she wanted to make an impact in environmental health and initially was interested in engineering. However, listening to guest speakers with her learning community and talking with faculty such as Cinzia Cervato, Morrill Professor and professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, prompted her to change directions.

“I realized I wanted to be a scientist,” she said. “Talking with professors was the best decision, propelled me to research and changed my view of my geology major. I felt comfortable because I knew there were endless paths I could take with it.”

Sampling research

During her first semester, Holmes decided to dig deeper into her interest in climate change research. She landed a job in the Stable Isotope Paleoenvironmental Lab, which examines changing ocean dynamics and marine climate variability.

While assisting graduate students and faculty, Holmes has worked with samples ranging from stalagmites from Columbia and Portugal to shells from Norway and the Gulf of Maine.

“All my sampling helps better understand how the change in climate is affecting people and our environment today,” she said. “I never thought I would end up studying geoscience and working in the Stable Isotope lab within my first year. It makes me excited for this year, because I hope it is just as unexpected. I can’t wait for new opportunities to arise and to meet lots of new people.”

Looking toward the future

Next spring, Holmes plans to study abroad in New Zealand at the University of Otago. Through field courses in geoscience and a local culture and history class, she hopes the experience will continue to expand her horizons.

“Growing up and going to college in the same location has it benefits, but I believe I need to experience something outside my comfort zone,” she said. “Having a new perspective might help me narrow down my career path and set me up for an even better future.”

Right now, Holmes’ future hopes are to conduct climate change research in graduate school and work for a government agency or continue on to a Ph.D.

“Standing up for what you think is right, or needs attention, is a great way for an individual to change the world,” she said. “For me, this is recognizing that our planet is being polluted and is subject to resource depletion. Climate change affects people every day all over our world. I see myself one day making an impact with my career. Hopefully then, with the knowledge I have gained along the way, I will be able to be an advocate for our planet.”

Karine’s adventure also included: