Class of 2017: Meet Davitia James, Who Found Her Path in Science

Davitia James 2017

Meet members of Geneseo's Class of 2017, who exemplify the college’s commitment to community, innovation, creativity, sustainability, and excellence. Student writers are highlighting our newest alumni and the contributions they have made, the calling they have found and discoveries made along the way.

Last December, geology major Davitia James ’17 set out with 14 other students to New Zealand for the research trip of a lifetime.

As an international student from Dominica, this trip, she says, was the farthest she has ever traveled. Hiking, camping and learning about the land, Davitia felt the trip was a time in which classmates and faculty formed great bonds. It also helped her feel prepared for the future.

“Being out in the field in an environment that I have never done work in before really helped solidify my interests about what I want to do after I leave Geneseo,” says Davitia.

On campus, Davitia has been involved in numerous research projects with both Associate Professor of Geological Sciences Dori Farthing and Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences Nicholas Warner. They are mentors, she says, who have helped shape her time at Geneseo.

She worked with Warner on projects regarding meteorite origin, and using crater density to find the ages of river systems on Mars. With Farthing, she conducted her own research involving examining pieces of slag — remnants of the iron smelting process — that came from a historic site in Delaware that is thought to be the location of the first use of slave labor in the USA.

Davitia is thankful for the grant she received from Geneseo’s Office of Sponsored Research to conduct the slag project. It would not have been possible without it, she says.

She has also held leadership positions as a teaching assistant and an Access Opportunities Program tutor. Davitia feels these experiences have helped her better empathize with students and understand their struggles. These experiences also have prepared her.

“I feel that I will be better able to handle working, teaching, doing research, and taking classes in graduate school since I have been doing it for the last year and a half,” she says. “Students at other state undergraduate institutions don’t get that same opportunity.”

Geneseo’s academics and faculty mentoring gave her crucial skills, as well: “The course load and how demanding the classes are in the geology department really helped toughen me as a person and helped me hammer out my time management skills. I feel that I can multi-task better,” says Davitia.

Those close connections in geology? They have helped her decide her path. Warner “was more of a life coach,” says Davitia, who sought his advice about attending graduate school, and what’s next.

What is next? Davitia plans to pursue graduate school at the University of Northern Colorado for a master’s degree in earth science.

— By Genna Amick '17, Academic Affairs intern