Tessa Farthing / Class of 2021

Tessa in field

  • Master's student in the Department of Geography
  • Research focus on physical geography: hydrology/water quality
  • Thesis research on creeks within the Upper Four Mile Creek Watershed

Why Miami?

"The research carried out by Dr. Grudzinski and the Water Resources Lab was what first attracted me to the geography graduate program. I was happy to discover that the program was small with a lot of focus on student success. I can have frequent interaction with my advisor and other faculty that I don’t think I would otherwise have at a larger university with a higher student to faculty ratio. I was also deciding between Miami and University of Dayton for my undergraduate degree. I ended up selecting UD for my bachelor’s, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to attend Miami as a graduate student. "

Best Miami Experiences

"One of my favorite experiences of graduate school (before the pandemic) was being in the graduate office with the other students to ask for advice, bounce ideas off of one another, or just have some comedic relief in the midst of grad school stress.

Outside of having a supportive cohort, the faculty are always willing to help students and provide them with resources to succeed. I am constantly in awe of my rock-star thesis committee and the powerful insight they are able to provide.

 I also really love what I study, and I want to continue in this general area of work for the rest of my life, so I have genuinely enjoyed doing the research."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"Geography is an interdisciplinary field, and that is one of my favorite things about it. Through my time at Miami, I have mainly taken courses in biology, environmental science, and geographic information science. Yet, there are people in the same exact program as me that are taking courses in political science, urban development, diversity, etc. Many lines of research can be associated with a spatial element. I think liberal arts education is important to help students become part of a progressing society. It is important to have some kind of understanding of topics outside of your area of expertise to accommodate the demands, goals, and perspectives of a dynamic world. I have thoroughly enjoyed being exposed to elements of geography outside of my research."

Researching Creeks in Upper Four Mile Creek Watershed

"I love water. I always have. Water resource management completely has my heart. My thesis research examines the impact of a forested state park (Hueston Woods) on nutrient concentrations within an agriculturally dominated watershed. The fieldwork of the study was carried out for a complete hydrological year and ended this past December. My research includes field sampling, lab analysis, hydrological and morphological surveying, remote sensing/GIS, and data analysis. It is intimidating to oversee every step of the research project, but it is also very empowering. It is gratifying, as I am coming to the end of my research, to watch everything come together in an overwhelming, but beautiful way. I am currently planning my defense for early April and then I will be graduating this May!"

Graduate School During a Global Pandemic

"Graduate school is tough. Graduate school in the middle of a global pandemic is extra tough. A crucial component of research is collaboration with colleagues, an advisor, and committee members. It has been a challenging and, at times, quite frustrating process to figure out ways through video calls, screen sharing, and outdoor-socially-distanced meetings to come together and problem solve. In the beginning, many of us were worried that our study designs we worked so hard to develop would soon become meaningless as access to academic buildings and labs came to a halt. I am so grateful I was able to recover from the gaps in data collection and move forward with my original study design, and I am still on track to defend my thesis and graduate on time. It has been a whirlwind of a graduate school experience, to say the least, but I am so fortunate to have been surrounded by a support system of graduate students enduring the same challenges and faculty that were prepared to help us navigate the worst-case scenarios.

 My advice to other students is to make an effort to reach out to professors and students to build a community, even if it’s a virtual one. Especially in graduate school, students can experience self-doubt and imposter syndrome, and it’s really important to surround yourself with colleagues that can give you a reality check and make you feel less alone."