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Q&A with RBC intern Gabriel Stephenson

A person smiles in front of greenery.

Hi! My name is Gabriel Stephenson, and I’m a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Ecology and a minor in Film Studies. I’m working as a communications intern for the River Basin Center this semester, and I’m so excited to be a part of such an inspiring community!

How’d you become interested in ecology? 

Since I was a little kid, I’ve always been enamored with nature. I’ve been extremely blessed to have had the chance to experience nature firsthand in a wide range of areas and environments. Swimming in creeks and lakes, catching frogs and lizards in my backyard, and collecting seashells on the beach make up some of my earliest memories of the natural world. As I’ve grown up, the wonder I felt at the beauty of the world has evolved into a deep desire to understand its inner workings. For me, ecology has been an amazing way to delve into the wonderful, interconnected web of life that we live in. 

Why freshwater specifically? 

Initially, I was more interested in marine ecology than anything else. Last semester, however, I took a class called Water Sustainability in the Anthropocene with Dr. Amy Rosemond. The class really helped me to realize the importance of freshwater, especially its impacts on people. So many people suffer because of the destruction of freshwater ecosystems that they depend on. That direct, vital link between humans and nature is something that I want to help to preserve. I also love the idea that freshwater ecosystems are so interconnected with both the land and the sea, and I’m fascinated by the incredible diversity of freshwater environments that exist around the world. 

What are you hoping to accomplish or learn in your role at the RBC? 

As an intern at the RBC, one of my main goals is to simply soak up the knowledge and wisdom of the folks around me and to be able to learn from their experiences as much as I can. I also hope to refine my own communication skills through different mediums such as writing, photography and videography. I hope that in my time at the RBC, I can create work that is meaningful to myself and others, and that helps people understand the beauty and the importance of freshwater ecology and the work of the people behind the science. 

Where’d you grow up? 

I’ve moved around a lot in my life, so I’d say I grew up in a lot of different places. Out of the five states I’ve now lived in, California is where I’ve been the longest, and it’s a place which has a lot of nostalgia for me. I was born in Fairfield, Northern California, and lived around the Sacramento area again during middle school. The last place I lived before coming to Athens was on a military base called RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom.

When you’re not in class you’re: 

Riding my bike, playing basketball, spending time with my friends and my partner, taking photos and videos of animals and plants, or trying new things.

A movie or TV show you could rewatch over and over:

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I absolutely love this movie. Aside from me just being a huge Spider-Man fan, the visuals, the story, and the characters in this movie are just so cool. It’s really changed the way I look at animation and visual storytelling, and to an extent, even life.