Sara is an associate professor of geosciences at Colorado State University, specifically focusing on fluvial geomorphology (not sure what that is? Check out Sara’s short biography.)
Her upbeat attitude and dedication to research has influenced the way people around her value the earth. Many students who have been taught by or been given a chance to meet Sara have found a deeper sense of gratitude towards geology. In her free time she enjoys hiking, back country skiing, spending time with family and friends, gardening, and cooking (she makes incredible nature bars).
What method or methods do you use for coping with stress?
The main method I use is exercise. I have been trying to commit to working out at least two mornings a week with my husband (Jim). We also do our best to enjoy the outdoors during weekends. Most recently, that has meant cooking, or packing the skis and heading into the mountains for a back-country trek.
I also try to relax at night before bed and read enjoyable books; something that takes my mind off of the day’s business. I can tend to carry a lot of what I do throughout day to bed, which results in a bad night of sleep, so reading is essentially a meditative and rejuvenating thing for me.
Lastly, my husband is great at keeping me in check. If he sees that I’m stressed, he will suggest something to help me get over it. Having people around you who are able to do this for you is very important.
Generally, I’ve paid more attention to the things that build stress in my life and tried to cut those things out or keep them to a minimum.
What is one lesson you’ve learned through a hard experience?
I’ve learned you have to be your own best advocate. You have to be able to ask for what you need, because no one can read your mind and understand you like you can.
When I transitioned from more of a teaching position to a tenure track, I didn’t advocate for lab space or startup money. Instead, I was so happy where I was at that I missed getting some essential things for starting tenure, and had to build that path from scratch.
Also it is OK to be able to show that you have mountains in your life. To say no to things that you don’t have the time or bandwidth for is a really good thing to do. Otherwise it can be easy to get taken advantage of.
If you could have unlimited resources for two weeks what would you do?
I would take these resources and help finance homes for young people that are trying to buy houses in Fort Collins (Colorado). I would love to help build a great community of diverse people in the place where we live, rather than a gentrified community full of well off upper class people. I’ve heard so many stories of young people not being able to buy houses because they are just too expensive, and it’s hard to hear that.
When Jim and I moved in to this neighborhood we had two young kids. The house was quirky and there was a lot of fixing up that needed to be done, but we stuck with it and have made a lot of improvements. Now we love where we live.
What verse, quote, phrase, or saying means the most to you and why?
The quote that means the most to me is from Maya Angelou. She says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This means a lot to me because I try to go with how I can make people feel during interactions with students and colleagues, rather than using specific words to influence or affirm them. We want an open learning environment where we are. This brings out the best in people.