Name: Eric Ellison

Graduation Year: December 2010 (class of 2011)

Education: MS Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University; BA Environmental Chemistry (Self-Design), Sterling College.

Current Hometown: Louisville, Colorado

Employment: Professional Research Assistant, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder


Other interests: Travel, hiking/backpacking/camping, photography, and homebrewing

Can you tell us about your current work? 

I am a lab manager and research scientist in a lab studying rock-hosted microbial life. My research focuses on the mineralogical transformations and geochemical reactions during serpentinization that produce chemical energy sources available to support rock-hosted microbial communities.

How did Sterling influence your current career path?

I first became interested in the complex interactions—especially where chemistry facilitates those interactions—between earth (rock, soil, water, atmosphere) and life at Sterling through courses like Soil Science, Watersheds, Geology, and Field Ecology. I was able to leverage the flexible and customizable curriculum at Sterling to dive deep into this area through independent studies, internships, the Senior Year Research Project (SYRP), and self-designing my major. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I developed the skills of independent learning at Sterling, which has helped seek out resources and teach myself as I continued my studies after Sterling.

What is your most memorable “out in the field” story?

Literally swimming through the deepest snow I had ever seen on Expedition (2007).

Any words of wisdom for current Sterling students?

Your time at Sterling is jam-packed with so many different opportunities, but many of the best ones are the ones where you have to put in the work to make them happen. Seek those ones out and put in the effort so you get the most from them.

Eric collecting samples
Filed Under: Alumni Blog