Rennie Meyers

Environmental Studies and History

September 1, 2015

Hometown: Bronx, NY

Adviser: Prof. Joshua Howe [history and environmental studies 2012–]

Thesis: Justifying the Field : the Evolution of Marine Science in Monterey Bay, 1880–1970

What it’s about: How industrial, military, and social interests altered the meaning of ecological thought in Monterey Bay, California. Over a century of shifting social priorities and new funding sources, educational institutions prioritized different parts of Monterey’s ecology over time to capture those changing interests—you see this change reflected in developing research methodologies.

What it’s really about: People (with the resources to do so) will find any excuse to be in the field. Scientific success often went hand-in-hand with a sense of wonder.

Who I was when I got to Reed: I was ready to have integrity matter and to set my own high standards.

Favorite class: In History of Science, 1680–1880,  Prof. Mary Ashburn Miller [history 2008–] showed us how to deploy historical methodology and theory, while critically engaging the methodological origins of Western science itself. From the early days of the scientific method on, the social narrative underlying any scientific discovery was (and is) as important as the “discovery” itself. The ways that we come upon ideas or revelation, the ways we approach the biological world, are deeply embedded in human social norms.

Influential professor: Prof. Josh Howe recognizes his students as people as well as academics. His classes were always accessible, and his office was always open.

Outside the Classroom: Friends. Lived in the Reed pool. Was student body vice president. Went surfing with the Gray Fund. Let off steam in the ceramic studio. Led a trip to see the lunar eclipse with Sky Appreciation Society. Worked as a dive master in Puget Sound. House adviser. 

How Reed changed me: Ask for what you need. Reed is hard enough as it is. Students owe their classmates and professors good work and commitment, but the school owes you support—and it’s usually there.  When it wasn’t, I tried (with senate and student leaders, it’s a multigenerational team effort) to make those resources available for future students. Own your community.

What’s next: I’m off on a Watson Fellowship to investigate coral conservation in Thailand, Fiji, Brunei, and Japan. Coral restoration highlights the different ways that people think about their own agency in dealing with the impacts of global climate change. Ultimately I’m interested in working with underrepresented and disempowered groups, “Climate Refugees,” to give them advocacy rights as we talk about “resiliency.” Reed gave me the tools to break problems into smaller fragments and figure out which ones I’m best suited to take on.

Word to prospies: If you were that kid who was pissed off in high school because people cared more about the grade, or pleasing a parent, than the material at hand, you will find a home here. Reed is a place where you can go as deep as you like for as long as you’d like. Professors are brilliant and excited to work with truly engaged students, and other excited students make you better.