Class of 2017: Meet Jake Marfin (Environmental Science)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Jake Marfin:

Jacob Marfin

Major: Environmental Science

Minor: Biology

Hometown: Penn Hills, Pa.

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I love the smaller size of the campus and the natural beauty of it; it reminds me of camp. Behrend feels like home to me.

On choosing to major in Environmental Science: I’m constantly in awe of the world around us. The earth is so beautiful and the environment is so full of diversity. I cannot think of one day that I didn’t appreciate how amazing our planet is.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’m most proud of being able to conduct my own research experiment under the guidance of Dr. Pam Silver, distinguished professor of biology. Doing my own research has strengthened my love for environmental science and learning.

Salty project: My research project was “The Effects of Biochar and Salt on Festuca arundinacea (Tall Fescue).” In laymen’s terms, I was conducting research to find out if biochar, which is a specific kind of charcoal, lessens the negative effects that road salt has on grass. I studied it during three different life stages of the grass.

On narrowing down a big field: My main interest is with plants, though ecology as a subject has been my favorite thing to study. Ecology and aquatic ecology have been the most engaging classes, and they have shaped my perspective about the environment today.

On politics and science: When it comes to politics, things are constantly changing. The good thing is that at least people are talking about certain issues right now. Dr. Silver taught us this: As scientists, we have to think about issues using valid, factual information. We have to think clearly, without bias. Opinions can be misleading and sources can be unreliable, so it is important to only form an opinion when you are as scientifically informed as you can be.

Campus involvement: I was one of two lead stewards for Penn State Behrend’s Weed Warriors program. We worked to remove invasive species from Wintergreen Gorge and other areas on campus. I’ve also been in the volleyball club since my first year.

Outside the lab: In my free time, I like to play volleyball, compose and produce music, and play video games. I’ve been skiing since I was a toddler.

Where you’ll find him on a nice day: My favorite place to enjoy nature on campus is definitely Wintergreen Gorge. It is immersive.

Who inspires him: I’m inspired by Lady Gaga. She’s intelligent, talented and full of love. She motivates me to be compassionate and embrace everyone’s differences. The world needs that kind of unconditional, accepting love today.

Advice for first-year students: If you feel confused or lost, you’re not alone. Nobody knows what they are doing in their first year. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out for help.

After his graduation in May, Jake hopes to find a job in wildlife conservation, restoration, or research.

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