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Graduate Students Unite

January 4, 2018
Rachel Edie

Doctoral student Rachel Edie helps lead the charge to create a thriving Graduate Student Network.

By Micaela Myers

Drawn to the University of Wyoming’s research opportunities plus its small-town location and stellar outdoor recreation, atmospheric science doctoral student Rachel Edie of Colorado Springs, Colo., also found leadership opportunities helping to create a thriving Graduate Student Network.

“Originally, I was just trying to expand my network of people beyond my department,” Edie says of her interest in starting the registered student organization (RSO). “It was to make new friends and hear about other research that is going on around campus. In science today, the more collaborative you are, the more valuable you are, so I wanted to start that process early. Graduate student networking of any kind is very important and often overlooked.”

With support from the UW Office of Academic Affairs, the Graduate Student Network grew and took on educational and wellness components. Now in its third year, its event listserv goes to more than 200 students from 25 departments. Events include social gatherings such as coffee hours, as well as workshops and presentations.

“We try to cover topics that we think graduate students are struggling with,” Edie says. These have included career panels from outside academia, wellness and resource workshops, and half-day writing intensives. The social, academic and wellness support is all aimed at making graduate school more manageable. Edie believes opportunities such as the Graduate Student Network will help improve graduate student retention. 

Edie also serves on the Women in Math, Science and Engineering advisory panel and helps organize events related to keeping women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In addition, she takes part in the mentoring program, PROGRESS (PROmoting Geoscience, Research, Education and SuccesS), which pairs graduate students and faculty members in the sciences with undergraduates. She currently mentors two female undergraduates interested in science. 

What originally led Edie to UW was the chance to research air quality and the impacts of biomass burning, including forest fires and oil and gas development, with Department of Atmospheric Science Assistant Professor Shane Murphy.

“My research is awesome,” she says. “I get to go do lots of fun fieldwork and use different instruments that are exciting to me.”

Edie’s long-term goal is to work at a national lab or research institution.

When she’s not busy on campus, you can find Edie climbing, running or hiking. “The outdoors are amazing and a great reprieve,” she says. “I love Laramie. You never have to struggle to find a parking spot, and you run into your friends all the time.”

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