Living the Dream

banner: COLSA Insight: Newsletter of the College of Life Sciences & Agriculture

Living the Dream

Joe Tumber-Davila carves out the time to help others through education and outreach as he pursues rigorous environmental research.

Shersingh Joseph Tumber-Davila ’15 has uncovered the secret to manipulating time. Known to his friends as Joe, Tumber-Davila is an Environmental Conservation major in the Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) who has perfected an ability to crack open his schedule as a full-time student and load it up with extras like working at both the Stable Isotope Laboratory and the Earth Systems Research Center; participating as an undergraduate teaching assistant in Botany and with research as a McNair Scholar; serving as president of the forestry honor society (Xi Sigma Pi), the environmental advocate for housing through the Sustainability Institute, the  scholarship chair and new member educator for Sigma Alpha Epsilon; volunteering for Project Sunshine; and more. Yes, more.

You’d think with responsibilities like that a person would sink to his knees under the pressure. And last summer, Tumber-Davila indeed found himself flat on the ground . . . but it wasn’t from exhaustion. He was doing research in Bartlett Forest that required the dexterity of an outdoor adventure enthusiast. “There was an access road, but to get to the plots I had to go through incredibly dense forest,” says Tumber-Davila. “I was crawling on all fours, holding onto roots to climb the mountain while skirting under branches everywhere.”

Once he found the plots that had been strategically set up beneath stands of hemlock, beech, maple, or birch trees, Tumber-Davila was able to collect information on the fungi he has been growing within PVC pipe cores in the ground. “Mycorrhizal Fungi has a symbiotic relationship with trees – trees give it carbon and it gives trees nutrients and water,” says Tumber-Davila. “I’m trying to measure how much carbon trees give to a mycorrhyzal fungi.”

Tumber-Davila has a clear-sighted view of his future and he is taking the most deliberate steps to get there. And as part of the very first group of Marble Scholars, he’s grateful for the opportunity to share his passion for the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) at the University with prospective and fellow students, parents, alumni, legislators, and more. “Coming here was the best thing I have ever done,” says Tumber-Davila whose goal is to create a life in which he can give back as a research professor of Environmental Science. “And if I could be a professor at UNH,” he says, leaning back with a smile, “that would be living the dream.”

Victoria Forester Courtland
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