Evan Hierholzer, Managing Editor
Sebastian Scofield, a senior biology major with an American politics concentration, is the University of Dallas’ 38th student to receive the Fulbright Award. Scofield will pursue a one-year master’s degree in applied ecology and conservation at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, under the direction of Professor Andrew Bourke. The award represents the achievement of someone who, early devoted to the outdoors and the study of nature, has followed his interests and will now continue to do so as a cultural ambassador of the U.S.
Born in Denver, Colo., Scofield and his family soon moved to Oregon, where they have lived since. He grew up on a farm, where he developed an interest in the outdoor world.
“One of my earliest memories is actually eating ants off of the sidewalk. Even from a really young age, I’ve always been fascinated with insects and really enjoyed watching them,” said Scofield.
Sometimes keeping up to six ant farms, as well as tending beehives, Scofield learned early how to tend to insects and observe their behavior.
Homeschooled throughout his life, Scofield knew he wanted to attend UD for undergraduate study.
“UD is actually the only school I applied to; I knew I wanted to go here,” said Scofield.
Among other reasons for attending, Scofield cited the strength of the biology program, the small class size and, most of all, the high degree of faculty/student contact.
“The reason I even applied for this Fulbright in the first place was because I was encouraged to by Dr. Hicks, and she tracked me down … I think if I had been at a larger institution I probably would not have even ended up applying for it. The professors cared enough to really encourage me to apply for something like this,” said Scofield.
Scofield, though a scientist at heart, enjoys other components of the liberal arts as well.
“I do love literature … I would say 95 percent of the conversations I have with people are not about science; I really do have broad interests in a lot of things. I’ve never wanted to just pigeonhole myself into one thing.”
Scofield mentioned that his pursuit of the American politics concentration, for example, stemmed from his interest in the Principles of American Politics Core class.
“I really enjoyed it; I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it … I took a freshman class that we’re all required to take, and it caused me to develop an interest that I would not otherwise have had,” said Scofield.
Though he expressed an interest in philosophy and the more abstract arts, Scofield explained his particular enjoyment of the limited nature of science.
“That’s one of the nice things about science, actually, because you just operate under certain assumptions and you don’t have to worry about whether or not you ‘really’ know; you have got a set of rules that are in place, and they work well,” Scofield said. “They are freeing, because they limit the scope of your inquiry.”
Scofield will be studying at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, under the direction of Andrew Bourke.
“I am so excited to be working with Andrew Bourke … he is a world-renowned pollination ecologist. Getting to work with him will be just incredible.”
Scofield explained that Bourke’s work relates well to his own interest in studying the connection between the pollination crisis and the biodiversity crisis, a topic Scofield previously researched for his Goldwater scholarship.
Scofield intends, after receiving his degree, to pursue his love of teaching in an academic environment.
“I’ve wanted to teach for a really long time,” said Scofield. “Long-term, I want to be a teaching professor and also doing research. Those are the two things I really love: I love sharing my knowledge about the natural world … with other people, and then I also love doing research. I want to be able to do both of those things.”
In addition to conducting research and taking classes, Scofield will also be involved with science outreach efforts in England. Scofield is already involved with a local science outreach program in the Dallas-Forth Worth area.
“I have been engaged with Irving BioBlitz here, which is a city program that Irving runs. They take disadvantaged kids or kids who are considered to be at risk out to green spaces in this area … we collect as many species as we can just to expose children to biodiversity and show them how much natural diversity of life there is just under their feet,” he said.
Scofield explained the reason for his involvement in science outreach and for his longstanding passion for teaching: “A lot of people are worried about how children grow up with very, very little exposure to nature, which is a problem in a lot of ways. I think the reason that I became interested in science, and the reason that I ended up applying for this Fulbright, was because, as a young child, I was constantly outdoors. That was what I did. I spent my summers outdoors making bivouacs in our woods out of fallen tree branches, or collecting ants and looking at termites. That’s the reason that I have this passion for nature, for knowledge.”