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Student Spotlight: Max Saylor '19

Max Saylor '19, a senior on the Dartmouth Bikes team, is a student with many talents ranging from rock climbing, to graphic design, to conducting geologic research in remote locations. We caught up with Max to learn a little bit more about him, his work, and his day to day on campus:

Where you are from? What lead you to Dartmouth?

I am from Stowe, Vermont. A love of New England and good fortune to be able to pursue academics with great professors brought me here!

What are your academic interests?

I am interested in Earth Sciences, particularly geology, as well as Human-Centered Design. I’ve also had the chance to dive deep into learning the methods of processing rock samples for zircon grains, which provide ages through Uranium-Lead dating techniques. This has involved using different machinery in the Mineral Separation Laboratory, on the Fairchild fourth floor, across two terms. This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to multiple remote camps in the Wernecke Mountain Range in the Yukon, Canada, as a field assistant studying carbonate rocks. There I learned how to log stratigraphic sections and we collected samples for carbon isotope analysis, conodont microfossil analysis, and multiple varieties of fossils. It was an incredible experience to find the memories of some of the first complex organisms on the planet, my favorites including discovering Trilobites, and a variety of corals.

Describe your involvement in sustainability on campus.

I have been fortunate to be an intern in the Sustainability Office since my Freshman winter. It has introduced me to the many facets of sustainability on campus, ranging from the actions of students, to the operations-side from faculty and staff. I’ve mainly been involved in the Dartmouth Bikes program, however have also participated in programs like EcoVate, run by the Office.

How do you spend your time outside of classes?

As a senior and reflecting back, it surprises myself that I don’t have a great answer for this. I’m not very involved in many organizations on campus, and at times that feels like I’m doing something wrong. But at the same time, that has been my experience here at Dartmouth, with a new set of experiences each term. These have ranged from being a PE instructor teaching slack lining, working in the climbing gym, participating with the DOC Environmental Stewardship Committee,as well as a couple different jobs and programs I’ve tried since freshman year. I’ve dabbled in and out of various activities in the Outing Club, and am a ‘peripheral’ DOC enthusiast. Outside of class, I love to spend my time enjoying the outdoors through my favorite activities including skiing and biking, and spend much of my time just daydreaming.

Why is sustainability important to you? How do you incorporate sustainability in daily life?

I feel most myself when I'm outside, and have been incredibly privileged to grow up and experience Nature in my childhood. The natural world is what inspires me, finding beauty in the mountains and rivers of New England, and is also what intrigues me the most. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by observing the present beauty around me and its dynamic nature. I’ll never forget learning in elementary school how the mountains of Vermont and New England were once as tall as the Himalayas, and had been covered by roughly a mile thickness of ice. Since then it has been among my greatest fascinations, directing my academic interest of geologic study for interpreting those paleo-environments, along with our present-day planet. As such, I fully support a shift toward renewable energy use, have adopted a personal ‘reduce-a-tarian’ diet to minimize meat consumption, avoid single-use plastic bottles, and travel by bike as much as I can instead of driving, to name a few things. Among my greatest interests of late are how to combine my passions and what I would like to do in the future, while ensuring that they positively affect the planet and society.

What’s been challenging about your work with Dartmouth Bikes? What’s been rewarding? What do you hope comes out of your work for the program?

Dartmouth Bikes is perhaps the largest ‘constant’ in my time at Dartmouth, which can vary widely in experience from term to term. It has been challenging in different ways, across different terms, largely with the constantly changing dynamics that comes with a different season each term, combined with a changing team. Meeting campus demands, and maintaining sufficient communication can be a big challenge! That said, there have been an overwhelming amount of rewarding experiences that continue to excite me about being on the team. Seeing a bike revived from nearly becoming scrap metal, knowing that the material and energy used in its creation are put to use, is very rewarding. I hope that the work our team puts in, and the initiatives we try to execute, will lead the community to be mindful of our serious bike waste. I also hope that our work with bikes may introduce people to larger discussions of sustainability, and its intersectionality with contemporary social issues.

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