Alumna Speaks to Students about Ecology Research
Returning home to Swanzey, NH, this spring, Dr. Eliza Maher Hasselquist ’99 was sifting through a memory box when she came across an old flyer from Keene State, announcing that she was the recipient of the College’s Audrey Thomas Award, which was given to the top biology graduating senior. Under the picture was a quote: “I want to get my PhD in conservation biology.”
“I always thought about continuing my education and doing research, but I didn’t know how long it would take,” said Hasselquist. “It’s been 17 years since I graduated, and my life has taken some twist and turns, but I eventually got there.”
On campus to speak as part of the College’s Natural Science Seminar Series and Environmental Studies Lecture, Dr. Hasselquist has traveled near and far in pursuit of her education. She recently earned her doctorate from Umea University in Northern Sweden, where she now resides with her husband Niles, who is teaching and doing post-doctoral research.
Visiting the Putnam Science Center for the first time, Hasselquist spoke about her research related to the holistic effects on northern Sweden streams and surrounding environment following the timber-floating era, concluding that people must be patient with the restoration. “The environment is very important to me,” said Hasselquist. “I think if people want to continue to live on this earth for any length of the time, we have to take care of it.”
The daughter of Keene State alumni Mike and Kitty Maher (both ’73), Hasselquist developed an interest in biology and ecology exploring her grandparents’ 100 acre farm in Swanzey with her younger sister Abby, a 2001 KSC grad. Majoring in biology at Keene State, where she was also a four-year member of the field hockey team, Hasselquist enjoyed the small classes and the opportunity to work closely with her professors.
Following graduation, Hasselquist worked briefly for the NH Fish and Game Department before heading west for an internship with the Student Conservation Association in New Mexico and a chance to work at Los Alamos National Lab. After receiving her master’s degree at Idaho State, Hasselquist went to Southern California, where she worked as a nature preserve manager. She traveled to Sweden in 2010 so her husband could do post-doctoral research.
Concluding her presentation at Keene State, Hasselquist told the students that biology is a big field and they should be open to a lot of different possibilities. “You can do a lot of things by having a solid base in biology, and don’t be afraid to try different things,” she said. “It may take some time before you actually figure out what direction you want to go.”