To Rebecca Lybrand, calling soil “dirt” is simplistic and diminishes its importance to plants, animals, and human beings. So why is soil, the foundation of life, constantly being referred to as “dirt?” Rebecca began this line of thinking in college, and this spark of curiosity turned a simple question into a career.
Rebecca is now a soil scientist at The University of Arizona. She received her Ph.D. from The University of Arizona’s Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science (SWES) in 2014. She is also a recipient of the 2014 Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellowship.
Rebecca’s CLIMAS project centered on creating two short films that documented her research across the Santa Catalina Mountains in Arizona. These films showcase four of her field sites, which span over 4000 feet of elevation gain. The sites differ in temperature, precipitation, and vegetation, all of which have remarkable impacts on the characteristics of these soils.
The visuals for both films are the same, but the scripts change to present the science message in two different contexts. One uses a lively, first person perspective that relays a scientific story, using Rebecca’s personal experience to frame the film. The other is in third person, and presents a formal video delivering a more scientific message along the lines of what you might see in a science documentary. The main objective of this project is to survey students and to evaluate the effectiveness of formal and informal communication techniques. (read more)