Connor O'Hearn / Class of 2021

Connor in field

  • Master's student in the Department of Geography
  • Thesis research ons ustainable coffee farming in Hawai'i 

Why Miami?

"I have had the privilege of attending Miami University for a combined six years of my life. First, as an undergraduate business student before working in corporate aircraft sales, and now as a graduate student studying Geography and GIS. You may be thinking, how does a business major with a sales background end up studying geography? This can be attributed to Miami University’s liberal arts philosophy. Throughout my tenure on this idyllic campus, I have explored classes and subjects across almost every academic and professional pursuit. This is a clear benefit of a liberal arts education. Students are not confined to a narrow curriculum and are encouraged to explore their interests. While working my way through my undergraduate years, geography continued to reveal itself at the core of the subjects that I studied. The deep-rooted connections of physical space and the impact that geography has on our day-to-day lives is profound. Current scientific discoveries and some of the most influential moments in history have been impacted by geography. Additionally, the modern-day application of geography and GIS to business, politics, the environment and many other fields, are continuously expanding." 

"My time studying Geography and GIS as a graduate student has been transformative. I have been challenged by my professors and peers to approach problems differently. The various classes and research opportunities have provided me with a great educational experience. The technical experience in class, and the application of those skills to my master’s research has been a superb way to learn. This degree will be a valuable pillar of my life that I look forward to utilizing in my future career. "

"In all my years at Miami University I have been fortunate to have great mentors, both professors and students alike, who have helped guide me through. This is the strength of Miami University. The faculty and staff are dedicated to doing their absolute best to make every student feel at home. When speaking with friends at Universities around the world, they are astonished by the commitment of Miami’s faculty to providing a meaningful and valuable learning experience. This makes Miami University the perfect place for the saying It is what you make of it. There are fewer and fewer organizations and companies where your effort and zeal will be reciprocated and where gratitude goes both ways." 

"I would encourage any student, either here at Miami or another institution, to consider the Geography program at Miami University. It has been a wonderful experience." 


Research Snapshot

"Despite the challenges that we have all faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, I consider myself extremely lucky to have managed to successfully carry out my graduate research. I worked with a coffee farm in the hills of Kona, Hawai’i. This family-owned company took me in for the summer and allowed me to work with them on their farm and conduct my graduate research on their property. 

My research involved surveying and collecting soil samples on a 122-acre piece of Hawai’ian rainforest. I gathered 81 soil samples and developed maps of the property. My field work consisted of me roaming the rainforest for multiple weeks of long ten-hour days. I would hack my way through the dense undergrowth with a machete, move to my predesignated waypoints via compass heading, and gather my soil sample and other data on fields sheets. This research project would not have been possible without the support of my graduate advisor. Dr. McCarty introduced me to the family and many other people that have assisted me along through my research. This has been a welcome learning experience and start in my scientific career."