Wild mountain goats and sheep might not excite everyone, but Julia Novak ’03 finds them pretty interesting. Novak went head to head with a few on an expedition in Outer Mongolia run by her employer Earthwatch Institute. Based just outside of Boston, Earthwatch conducts global field research on the sustainability of the environment in terms of rainforests, wildlife conservation, marine science and archaeology.
“I am thankful for all the fantastic teachers I had at Gilmour,” Novak says, “for helping me build the basis for successfully pursuing a path that I love.”
As a corporate engagement coordinator, Novak oversees 125 participants in the Climate Partnership Fellowship Program each year who volunteer for field programs, and she is involved in their recruitment, training and post-program work. The Gilmour graduate has a bachelor of arts degree in environmental studies from the University of San Diego where she earned the school’s Student Leadership Award in 2005. In February 2009, she also trained Earthwatch staff in India about health, safety and risk management protocols for the India Regional Climate Center, which researches the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems with the Indian Institute of Sciences. Novak also has participated in similar research at the North America Regional Climate Center housed at the Smithsonian Environmental Research campus in Maryland.
“My experience with Earthwatch has given me many learning opportunities and ultimately helped me to narrow my research interests,” Novak says. She plans to study for her doctorate in fisheries and wildlife at the University of Michigan in the fall after completing a fellowship to study Hindu. Prior to her work with Earthwatch, Novak was a park ranger for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Novak believes the study and time management skills she learned at Gilmour have benefitted her career as well as the importance of building solid working relationships. “The professors at Gilmour were fantastic role models who had a huge impact on my preparedness for both undergraduate studies and the beginning of my career,” she says.
When Novak is not on the job, the Boston resident enjoys white water and sea kayaking, international travel, backcountry camping and backpacking. When she is back in Cleveland during the holidays, Novak gets together with Gilmour classmates Meredith Batcheller and Jacob Boeshans in the Coventry area. Her offbeat career has factored into her philosophy of life and she says, “Always keep an open mind and expose yourself to as many new experiences as possible.”