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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Undergraduate Research Spotlight: Lily Simon

Lily Simon
Communications ‘23
OSU Institute for Population Research

Lily Simon smiling while in nature Lily is currently a junior majoring in Communications. During her time at OSU, she has been involved in the Mountaineers and SIERRA Clubs and participated in research with Dr. Kerry Ard. After graduation, Lily plans to go out West to work in the environmental sector.   

Read the full interview with Lily:

A Glance at Lily’s Research  

I have worked on two different research projects with Dr. Kerry Ard thus far. The first project I worked on researched the impact that climate change can potentially have on social change. I am currently working on a second project with her that is researching the social determinants of health from an environmental perspective. I have also worked alongside Kelsey Ryan-Simkins. I assisted her with her Ph.D. research on the accessibility of urban agriculture in Ohio.  

In my research, I would read through lengthy research publications and consolidate the research. Essentially, I was paraphrasing a lot of it so that Dr. Ard could use it to further her own research. All of these articles I turned into a bibliography for easier reference.Lily Simon holding a hose while standing in tall grass with a lake in the back  

How did you hear about this opportunity?
I had Dr. Ard as a professor during my first semester at Ohio State. I was an environmental policy major at the time and I was extremely interested in the content that her class covered. It was an environmental sociology course (ENR 2300) and it motivated me to ask questions regarding why humans treat the environment so poorly and why other humans were suffering as a result. I had been in close contact with the teacher assistant for that course, Kelsey Ryan-Simkins because she used a lot of my work as examples for future teaching of the course. After finals, I reached out to Dr. Ard asking if I could work with her and she immediately put me to work. As a freshman, I wanted to have as many options post-grad as possible. I didn't know if I wanted to do research and pursue higher education, enter the workforce, etc. I worked with her on two labs because the work that she does is the most interesting to me. 

Lily smiling while wearing binoculars and holding books and standing around wildernessWhat aspect of your research do you feel was most valuable in your professional development?
Before I started working with Dr. Ard, research publications look like some form of alien language to me. I didn't know what I was reading and let alone how to read them. With a lot of practice and deadlines, I quickly learned how to read through and decipher other people's research to apply it to our own research. This is a useful skill for many researchers, not just social scientists. 

Were there any challenges you faced in getting involved in research? How did you overcome them?
The only challenging part of the research I've been involved with was encountered while I was completing an internship in rural Montana during the Summer of 2021. Most of the research I assist in requires an internet connection to complete, and it is very hard to find one out West. Although I'm not complaining, I loved it out there.

What advice would you give to someone who is hoping to get involved in research?
My advice is, don't be afraid to put yourself out there. People admire confidence, and you definitely have to be confident in yourself before anyone else can be confident in you. Fake it until you make it.  


College Life and Beyond  

What else have you been involved in during college?Lily smiling with a friend in the wilderness
I am a part of several research projects on campus. I am also a member of the Mountaineers Club, the SIERRA Club, and I am a member of the Student Ambassador Board for the Global Water Institute.

What are your career aspirations at this time?
After I graduate from Ohio State I plan on going back out West to work directly in the environmental sector. My internship was with the Lewis and Clark National Forest, but I would like to work in one of the National Parks conducting research. The future is uncertain, however, so I might attend graduate school as well.

What skills are you learning now that you could transfer to those career aspirations?
I have learned a lot about synthesizing research while working with Dr. Ard and Kelsey. I also have received numerous crash courses on the various technologies that can be used as tools to conduct social research.  



How to connect with Lily:   

If fellow students would like to get involved in research, I am more than happy to give advice! The best way to contact me is through email. My email is   


Post created April 2022