Ariel Rivers

What is your degree; what was your major? Specialization?
Soil and Water Science, minor in International Agricultural Development Specializing in Agricultural Management

When did (will) you graduate? September 2004

Current employer, location of employment, and description of job responsibilities.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA.
Marshall Islands Project, Energy and Environment Directorate. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the United States performed a series of nuclear tests on several coral atolls in the Marshall Islands, a small island nation about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. In order to perform the tests, a number of people were relocated away from their home islands, and have yet to move back home due to remaining nuclear fallout which could potentially cause cancer. With the help of other scientists, I perform laboratory analysis on a variety of different samples—coconuts, fish, soils, crabs, sea and freshwater, etc.—from these locations, and based on the results, recommendations are made to the Marshellese people in order to remediate the islands. The majority of my time is spent in the lab processing samples (cleaning fish, homogenizing coconuts…), preparing samples for further analysis (digesting soils), and using X-ray Fluorescence to analyze potassium levels in coconuts. Over the last year and a half that I have worked with the program, I was fortunate enough to spend a total of four and a half weeks collecting samples during two different missions to the Marshall Islands.

What best prepared you for this job: courses, internship experience, faculty recommendations?
My position is extremely random as compared to the type of jobs for which I typically applied. It is important, in my opinion, to have a very diverse resume which details a broad range of experiences and an ability to adapt to various situations. Throughout my time at UC Davis, I interned with a variety of different organizations, as well as dedicated a great deal of time to extracurricular activities and spent two summers working abroad, in Panama and France. As I dedicated time to those activities, as well as to my studies, I was able to build strong relationships with faculty at UC Davis, which of course inevitably helped with recommendations professionally as well as academically. In my opinion, not one particular thing really prepared me for my position, as a collection of activities related to my overall career goal during my time at UC Davis helped me to become a well-rounded person.

Graduate school ambitions? If so, what?
I will be starting my Master of Science degree in Environmental Studies at San Jose State University in the fall of 2006. I expect to focus on sustainable resource management in developing countries.

Career suggestions for students with your major.
Experience. Use your resources at UC Davis—professors, other students, the Internship and Career Center, your department, etc.—to find activities that will boost your resume. Not only will you gain experience for your later careers, but you will also find ways to relieve stress and make valuable contacts, especially friends, which will help you get through your post graduation career search.

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