Maddie Morris, 2020-2021 Ian Pepper Scholar

Senior Environmental Science Major, minors in Mathematics and Spanish

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m from Queen Creek, Arizona and grew up outdoors, with a wildflower guide in one hand and walking stick in the other.  

We went on many family camping trips in Coconino National Forest. My time outdoors expanded to become a passion for chemistry and biology, figuring out how we can use sciences to protect our environment. 

I work as a student research assistant in Dr. Dennis Ray’s greenhouse, where I’ve learned about both agronomy and conservation caring for seedlings for different kinds of crops. I’m also a member of professional agricultural sorority, Sigma Alpha, and a math tutor at ThinkTank

What did you decide on the environmental science major?

I started off as a plant sciences major, but was looking to do more than laboratory and genetics work, so switched to an environmental science major since I’m passionate about climate change and sustainability. 

My favorite classes so far have focused on soil conversation, like Introduction to Soil Science and Soils Lab. I enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of the major and learning about a big part of our ecosystem that many might not know anything about. 

What have been some your biggest challenges, especially during the pandemic?

I’ve dealt with imposter syndrome, especially in chemistry and math classes. But I’ve learned that I’m doing the best I can, and I am proud of how hard I work. 

For remote learning during the pandemic, it’s been challenging adjusting to different styles of learning with various expectations. I’ve also discovered how much I value in-person interaction and how grateful I am for myself and my family. 

What are your future goals?

I'm looking into graduate school or working for the United States Department of Agriculture, especially focusing on soil science and desert ecosystem management. I want to learn how to share the science behind the ecosystems in hopes of inspiring others protect our environment.  

How does the Dr. Ian Pepper Scholarship help you reach your goals?

The Ian Pepper Scholarship took some of the worry off my finances, as I’ve been adjusting financially during the pandemic with decreased work hours. 

I’ve had to worry less about money, and can focus more on taking care of myself and my classes. 

Words of advice?

"Take care of yourself, believe in yourself and your abilities.”