Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Celeste R. Labedz

Photo Credit: Alumni Spotlight Celeste Labedz
March 29, 2023

Majors: Physics & Geology

Degree Obtained: Undergraduate

Graduation Year: 2016

Who is your employer, and where are they located?
University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

What is your job title and what kind of work does it involve?
I am an Eyes High Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Geoscience, researching in environmental seismology. My current work uses seismometers (the same instruments that detect earthquakes) to observe physical processes inside of glaciers, helping us to better understand the dynamics of glaciers in general and to develop better early warning technology for glacier-related hazards like glacial lake outburst floods. I spend my summers deploying geophysical instruments and collecting data at glaciers, and the rest of the year analyzing that data.

What sparked your interest in your majors?
I first considered geophysics as a potential career path during high school while participating in Science Olympiad competitions, and my interest grew from there as I started learning more and participating in research during college.

What do you see as the value of your majors or CAS degree?
Getting a broad education in both physics and geoscience at UNL has been very helpful for working in such an interdisciplinary field as environmental seismology; I have a wide range of knowledge and experience in both fields to draw from when approaching a new problem.

Were there any other people, activities, or events from your time at UNL that helped you get to where you are now?
Participating in research in Dr. Shireen Adenwalla's lab was a huge part of my development as a scientist; working there helped me build fundamental research skills, taught me about some very interesting science, and gave me role models to look up to. I also developed a lot of valuable teamwork and leadership skills by participating in Society of Physics Students, Mortar Board, and Cornhusker Marching Band.

Tell us about the path you took to get to where you are today in your career and how you applied your education in your major(s) or area(s) of study to get here.
My start in seismology research was a summer research internship at MIT between my sophomore and junior year at UNL. Based on that experience and my experiences at UNL, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in geophysics.

After graduating from UNL, I started a PhD at the California Institute of Technology doing environmental seismology research, mostly working on glaciers in Alaska. After graduating from Caltech in 2022, I moved to Canada for my current position at UCalgary.

What are your future professional goals?
My overarching goal is to make a positive impact on the world through geoscience. I don't know yet whether I'll meet that goal through continuing to work in research, shifting to focus more on teaching, or moving in an even more different direction, but I do look forward to whatever challenges are coming next!