Julia Portmann 鈥19
Julia Portmann 鈥19

A Woman of Many Talents

Julia  Portmann

Class of 2019 鈥 Palatine, Illinois
There is something quietly superhuman about Julia Portmann 鈥19. While setting records鈥攁nd never missing a practice鈥攁s a member of the varsity swim team, she is double majoring in biology and environmental science, minoring in German, and seems to be everywhere at once, wholeheartedly embracing every opportunity WC has to offer.


As vice-president of the Garden Club, she has helped raise bees and harvest honey, labored over huckleberries and other native plants, and composted table scraps from the dining hall. As a permaculture intern, she helped foster the garden鈥檚 transition to a sustainable ecosystem that recently earned it certification as a model conservation landscape. 

She helped research African American publishing history using Global Information Systems (GIS) technology as an intern in the GIS lab. She is a member of the Honor Board, the Student Environmental Alliance, and the National Leadership and National Environmental honor societies. She has been named Centennial Conference Swimmer of the week twice and Shorewoman of the Week seven times in three seasons. She is president of the German Club, a member of the National German Honor Society, and last summer organized her own trip to study German for the Natural Sciences at the University of Freiburg in Germany with a grant from the Cater Society, of which she is student vice-president.

Plus, she has taken full advantage of WC鈥檚 summer science research internships.

鈥淚 have been really impressed with Julia's drive to learn everything she can,鈥 says Robin Van Meter, assistant professor of environmental science/studies and biology and Portmann鈥檚 advisor. 鈥淗er time management skills amaze me. She juggles the swim team with other extracurricular activities while still maintaining a 4.0 GPA and working with me in the lab. On top of that, she is friendly and easy-going, very collaborative, and has a natural gift for research. It鈥檚 a joy to work with her.鈥

Between her freshman and sophomore years, Julia was a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) intern at UC Santa Cruz studying the impact of rising water temperatures on fish. She loved the science, and had dreamed of becoming a marine biologist, living near the water, which was part of what drew her from her hometown of Palatine, Illinois, to 今晚六合彩开奖结果.

鈥淚 always felt like a water baby,鈥 she says. 鈥淎nd 今晚六合彩开奖结果 immediately felt like home.鈥 But hovering over fish and their offspring for 11 weeks made her question whether she really wanted to spend all of her daylight hours in a lab.

鈥淚 love hard science,鈥 she says. 鈥淏ut I want to know what I can do with it, how I can use it to make a difference.鈥

It was an internship the following summer doing bat research at Eastern Kentucky University and the Daniel Boone National Forest鈥攖hrough the National Science Foundation and its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program鈥攖hat inspired her to think beyond the lab. And even beyond the water.

"I fell in love with the forest,鈥 she says. 鈥淎nd one of the best parts for me was shadowing a Forest Service employee who is involved in just about every project there. She helps with bat and bird and plant surveys and puts them all together in reports that are really about 鈥楬ow can we use this information to better manage the forest, help the wildlife, improve the experience for visitors?鈥 I鈥檓 not sure exactly what I鈥檒l end up doing鈥攖here鈥檚 so much still to explore鈥攂ut I thought that was pretty cool, using science to make things better.鈥

At her graduation ceremonies in May 2019. Julia was recognized with the Casey Medal, awarded by the faculty to a woman considered outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership and campus citizenship. Beginning in Fall 2020, she is studying for a master of science degree in biology at James Madison University.