Accepted at Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Chicago Kent
Rejected: DePaul, Ohio State, University of Chicago
Waitlisted: Wisconsin, Loyola Chicago
While attending the University of Illinois, I have enjoyed many opportunities to learn about the environment while developing an interest in the law. Hands-on experiences in the lab, field work across the state, and lectures from leading researchers engaged my mind and captured my interest. Studying ecology and the world’s environmental problems has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the environment as well as a desire to learn how attorneys utilize regulatory systems to protect it. Participating in an undergraduate research project on climate change, interning in a methylmercury lab, and taking an environmental law class have inspired me to attend law school to pursue my interest in learning how the law can address environmental problems.
During spring semester 2006, I began a research project on climate change under the direction of Dr. Tony Endress. We analyzed climate data from the past 100 years to investigate how the observed variations affected the phenology of Illinois flora. The engaging research revealed the extent to which climate change alters the function and timing of processes in ecosystems. I continued researching environmental problems last summer with the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. As an intern in Dr. Robert Hudson’s lab at the University of Illinois, I conducted a research project on methylmercury in crayfish and odonates from the Piasa Creek Watershed in southeastern Illinois. Methylmercury, a widespread neurotoxin especially hazardous to developing organisms, is found throughout the world’s aquatic ecosystems and poses a threat to public and ecosystem health. Although I enjoyed contributing to the academic community with my research, I wanted to do something more tangible about the problems I studied. Applying the law to diminish threats to human and environmental well-being would simultaneously achieve social and environmental justice, benefiting both humans and nature.
Both research endeavors have been fascinating, rewarding projects, but research alone cannot satisfy me professionally. The legal system makes connections between science and regulatory policy, allowing the results of scientific research to engender change that benefits society. My research projects inspired me to learn how to use the law to improve ecosystem quality and to protect human well-being. I am interested in developing policies that protect species from hazardous exposure to methylmercury and other toxins by reducing their abundance in ecosystems. In law school, I hope to learn how to craft a practical regulatory system that mitigates the negative effects of climate change on society and the environment. As a lawyer, I want to apply science through the law to make a positive change in the world.
While my research projects directed me towards specific issues to examine in a legal context, studying the law as an undergraduate inspires me to explore deeper aspects of legal structures and how they affect environmental well-being in law school. Last semester in environmental law class, I found my niche. Reading and discussing cases in class captured my interest every day because I felt passionate about each issue and was fascinated by the legal arguments used in each situation. Although the course focused on many cases and a variety of legal issues, at the end of the class I wanted to know more. Continuing my legal studies in law school will provide the tools I need to achieve my goal of applying science through the law, thus improving human and environmental wellbeing. With my future aspirations in mind, I look forward to the rewarding challenges of law school.