In Their Words: Rachel Shellabarger

June 07, 2017

Name: Rachel Shellabarger

Department: Environmental Studies

What award/scholarship did you receive? David Gaines Award in Environmental Studies

What year are you (1st year, 3rd year)? Ph.D. student, 2nd year

College: Graduate Division

Where do you call home? I'm originally from Blue Grass, Iowa

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out? I have an intersdisciplinary background, with experience conducting both natural science and social science research related to agriculture in the U.S. The Environmental Studies Ph.D. program integrates these traditionally independent fields of research, and therefore seemed like an excellent learning environment.

What is your field of focus? I use my interdisciplinary background to research dairy production in California, and focus on understanding the effects of recent environmental legislation that regulates groundwater and methane. I use this as a case study to understand what sustainability efforts like environmental regulation mean on the ground for the diversity of farms and farmers in the U.S. 

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz? I hope to remain in academia as a professor, and continue to research and teach about interdisciplinary environmental issues. 

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here? One thing that stands out is my time as a teaching assistant for the sustainable agriculture class, with labs conducted on the UCSC farm. For this class I had to arrive early in the morning to set up materials before morning labs started. Watching the sunrise from the UCSC farm brought me back to the many mornings when I watched the sunrise from the barn on my own family’s farm. 

How will this scholarship impact your academic life/research? The David Gaines Award provides funding so that I can implement research this summer. With these funds I can be in the field to learn directly from dairy farmers throughout California about implementation of groundwater and methane regulations.