In March, Wilton native Sarah Guth committed to the University of California, Berkeley’s Integrative Biology graduate program, and will begin studying socio-ecological and climatic drivers of vector-borne disease in mid-August.
Guth, who graduated from Wilton High School in 2011 and went on to study conservation biology at Middlebury College in Vermont, said her interest in environmental science began in Brett Amero’s AP Environmental Science class at Wilton High School.
“I found his teaching style incredibly engaging. He taught the class concepts through case studies — stories about communities and people that had been directly affected by environmental issues and policy,” said Guth.
“I always looked forward to his class. He [taught] us planetary health, defined as ‘the health of human civilization and the state of natural systems on which it depends.’”
In addition to learning the ecological and biological processes behind environmental change, said Guth, “we were learning about how communities are affected and respond to these changes.”
“This approach — examining the nexus between environmental change and human health — has become the basis of my passion for research,” she said. “His class was truly a pivotal moment in my life.”
After graduating from Middlebury magna cum laude in 2015, Guth did a summer internship studying the migration patterns of painted lady butterflies at Harvard University.
“I absolutely loved the people in the lab, but I had difficulty becoming absorbed in the project,” said Guth.
After realizing that she “needed to conduct research with human application in order to feel connected to [her] work,” Guth said, she ended up revising the life path she had planned.
“I turned down a job studying ant behavior ... and continued to work part-time in the butterfly lab and part-time in a café while I looked for a job,” she said.