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Spotlight on Everett Lasher, PhD: PhD Alum in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Created: June 28, 2019

Everett Lasher received his PhD in earth and planetary sciences from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in June 2019. His research focuses on how the climate and environment along the west coast of Greenland have changed over the last 11,000 years. Everett’s work was recently featured on CNN, among various other news outlets.

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?
I study how climate has changed over the last 11,000 years around Greenland. I collect sediment cores from Arctic lakes; the layers of mud laid down year after year at the bottom of these lakes contains clues to past climate and environmental change. I use the preserved exoskeletons of aquatic insects buried in those mud layers to figure out how warm or cold it was at a given time, or how wet or dry it was at a given lake through time. I pair my temperature histories with data from other scientists who examine how the Greenland ice sheet waxed and waned through time. Together, we can determine how warm it must be for the ice sheet to retreat, or how cold it needs to be for the ice to advance. 

Tell us what inspired your research and/or work.
I've enjoyed field-based research since I was an undergraduate at Dickinson College. I would say that it was my professors there who sparked the interest. My current adviser, Yarrow Axford, has also guided and inspired my latest research. 

Whom do you admire in your field and otherwise, and why?
There are many climate scientists who actively engage and inform the public or skeptics about what lies ahead for us in regards to climate change. I think it’s one of the most important issues that is/will continue to impact human life. I admire their efforts, and aim to do the same when I can.

What do you find both rewarding and challenging about your research and/or work?
Rewarding – I get to spend weeks each year in Greenland, a beautiful and rapidly changing part of the world, with awesome colleagues.
Challenging – The countless hours at the microscope and engaging with people who don't believe in climate change.

What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work?
I'm adding new paleoclimate data around Greenland that will help us better understand how the Ice Sheet behaves. As it continues to shrink and contribute to sea level rise, this is important for millions of people.

What inspires you?
Complex data presented beautifully 

What did you originally want to be when you grew up?
An inventor or a diplomat at the United Nations

What advice would you give your younger self or someone considering a similar path?
When you feel like you're not accomplishing anything related to your research, talk to your adviser or mentor.

Tell us about a time when things did not go as you planned, what did you learn?
During a 2018 field season to south Greenland, our team got stuck at a camp for an extra week because the helicopter could not get us in bad weather. We learned there is always more sampling and science to do; make sure you pack enough food for twice as long as you expect to be somewhere, and bring twice as many socks as you think you need.