Scientist, Environmentalist Margaret Lindeman ’15 Wins Udall Grant

margaret lindeman

Margaret Lindeman ’15 has received a 2014 Udall Scholarship

This summer, Margaret Lindeman ’15 will travel by sea to Greenland, above the Arctic Circle, to investigate a rapidly melting glacier. In just the past decade, the Jakobshavn Glacier’s rate of ice flow from land to ocean has doubled, making it the fastest flowing glacier in the world.

Lindeman will assist a small research team from New York University that is studying the changing ocean dynamics around the glacier (such as rising sea temperatures) to see whether this is contributing to the accelerating ice flow.

“It’s really important to me to do research that is relevant to solving problems in the world and to communicate that in an accessible way,” Lindeman said in a recent interview. “It’s really important for me to convey science in a way that can contribute to a change in policy.”

That is why Lindeman is focusing her career on climate change, ice and oceans. “A concrete connection needs to be drawn between glaciers and people,” she said. Melting glaciers threaten more than penguins and polar bears, she said. They’re contributing to rising sea levels, “which affect the poorest and the richest people around the globe.”

In recognition of her commitment to the environment, Lindeman has won a $5,000 Udall scholarship toward her Bowdoin tuition next year. The Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation supports environmentally-minded undergraduates interested in entering many different fields, from science and policy to engineering, education, business, health, economics and more.

In addition, Bowdoin has three Udall honorable mentions this year: Matthew Goodrich ’15, Bridgett McCoy ’15 and Courtney Payne ’15.

Lindeman is double majoring in math and earth and oceanographic science, and minoring in physics. She came into Bowdoin thinking she would major in government, with a focus on environmental policy. Meeting Associate Professor of Earth and Oceanographic Science Collin Roesler during The Bowdoin Science Experience altered her plans. She dropped the idea of studying government and instead focused on ocean science.

Then Mary Lou Zeeman, Bowdoin’s R. Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics, hooked Lindeman on math after showing Lindeman how intertwined her discipline is with climate studies. Zeeman also helped Lindeman secure her summertime research opportunity in Greenland through her contacts in the Mathematics and Climate Research Network.

Lindeman’s plan after graduating is to study for a year in Germany or Norway, which both have universities with strong polar studies programs. Then she will enroll in a Ph.D. program in ocean and atmospheric science combined with applied math.

Lindeman, who grew up Brooklyn, N.Y., said her desire to try to circumvent the devastating effects of climate change began when she was a high school student. “I remember hearing about global warming as a kid and thinking, ‘Oh, that’s a big problem for grown-ups to fix,” she said. “By the time I was in high school, it was quite clear to me that grown-ups weren’t fixing it.” She added, “It’s something I could work on for the rest of my life.”

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