Abby Heublein (Class of 2021)

photo of Abby Heublein

  • junior major in Urban and Regional Planning, with a Sustainability co-major
  • minor in Linguistics
  • acquiring a certificate in Geographic Information Science (GISci)
  • from Concord, OH
  • studied coastal sustainability at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (Summer 2019)
  • member, Miami University Equestrian Team
"As students, we should definitely enjoy all Miami has to offer. Miami is such a unique school that offers so many programs and clubs, so explore those things in addition to studying hard. Look beyond your courses to find something you are passionate about."

Why Miami?

"One of the things that first drew me to Miami is the college town feeling. You walk around campus and just feel at home. I also love the close-knit community between the faculty and the students. Just the general connectedness at Miami makes it feel like my home away from home!

"My freshman year I was confident I would graduate Miami with a biology degree, but after taking a geography course for the Miami Plan and finding that I absolutely loved it, I decided to switch to urban and regional planning (URP). This major is unique in that it combines all of my interests in a way I had never considered. Had I gone to a different university, I may have never discovered my love for geography."

Best Miami Experiences

Abby Heublein (back left) with several Miami University Equestrian teammates

"Miami has allowed me to combine my URP major with the sustainability co-major to explore more topics than I would have been able to at other schools. URP relates primarily to the mechanisms that go into building a city, and when you add the sustainability angle, you develop a new question of how to make a city greener and more efficient. This is very interesting to me, because I am constantly thinking of the connections between people and their environment.

"Soon after declaring my major, I started looking into related research programs, knowing Miami would prepare me well for any of these experiences. One of my peers encouraged me to apply for National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, which provided me with the opportunity to collaborate with researchers at the University of Alabama-Huntsville and visit a different part of the country.

"Miami also provided me with the opportunity to join the equestrian team and meet some of my closest friends. Incoming freshmen are invited to move in early and participate in Miami Bound. Miami Bound is one of my favorite experiences at Miami because of all the memories I made with my teammates and coaches. Overall, I treasure every moment I spend with my teammates driving to horse shows, competing, and even spoiling our amazing ponies!"

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"Miami's liberal arts program, provided through the College of Arts and Science, has made my major very well-rounded. It allows you to craft a degree combination that fits your interests. There are so many routes within the urban and regional planning major, and I know people who pair it with political science and others.

"The writing requirements at Miami have helped me develop a strong writing background, and I was encouraged to continue studying Spanish through the foreign language requirement. Because my sustainability classes encompass students from a wide variety of majors, I enjoy group projects, where our extensive collective knowledge provides an amazing deliverable.

"The liberal arts have definitely made me a better, more deliberate writer. In URP, communication and writing skills are very important when you are trying to clearly convey your ideas to different groups of people. I also think the liberal arts have made me become a better public speaker. This was challenging for me when I began at Miami, but my classes have encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and thrive in public speaking situations."

Studying Horseshoe Crabs along the Gulf of Mexico

Abby Heublein stands beside a poster summarizing her research results.

"For my REU project sponsored by the NSF, I traveled to the University of Alabama-Huntsville to study sustainability in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The focus of my research here was the American horseshoe crab.

"Throughout this experience I used a variety of remote-sensing techniques to look at human impact on the region, while comparing that to my mentor's field data to see if it was possible to research the topic remotely instead of on-site. My mentor, Dr. Maury Estes, is a research scientist who has collected extensive field data on the specimen and helped me to create project goals revolving around his data and remotely sensed data.

"To achieve this, I spent a lot of my time in front of a computer processing large amounts of data, but the REU also allowed us to take many field trips and interact with professionals in our field. We attended professional meetings, toured Redstone Arsenal and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, visited private companies such as Baron Weather, and networked with the community.

"From my research, I concluded that human development encroaching on the coast has ramifications for the sustainability and health of a coastal ecosystem. I am looking forward to presenting this research at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Conference in San Diego.

"My Miami classes prepared me very well with the background knowledge for this research experience. I came into the project with a very good idea of what sustainability meant and how I would apply it. Additionally, having conceived this research project effectively from scratch, I was able to utilize my problem-solving skills to troubleshoot a variety of issues and delays.

"This research experience also made me question everyday choices regarding sustainability. It demonstrated how people have a real impact on the environment, calling into question all of my daily activities and their broader impact on the planet."

Advice to Students

"As students, we should definitely enjoy all Miami has to offer. Miami is such a unique school that offers so many programs and clubs, so explore those things in addition to studying hard. Look beyond your courses to find something you are passionate about, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone!"

[January 2020]