Melissa Brett


Melissa Brett
San Diego, CA
Major: Physics and Geology in the College of Science and Technology

Campus Involvement:  President of Sigma Gamma Epsilon (SGE) Earth Science Honor Society , President of Earth Science Society, member of Phi Kappa Phi, member of Radford University Geological Society (RUGS), member of Association of Engineering Geologists (AEG), member of Society of Physics Students (SPS), and student manager of Radford University Museum of the Earth Sciences.

While most Radford University students decided to spend the week of Spring Break relaxing, Melissa Brett opted for something entirely different. The junior physics and geology major from San Diego decided to take a potentially life-changing course instead: PHYS 450: Arctic Geophysics.

Every two years, Radford University Physics Professor Rhett Hermann and a group of students brave bone-chilling cold to conduct research in America’s northernmost city – Barrow, Alaska. This year, Brett is one of 13 Radford University students conducting research on sea ice data and investigating the possible correlation between the surface temperature of Arctic Sea ice and the thickness of sea ice.

“The opportunity to conduct undergraduate research in the harsh polar climate gives me a chance for me to test my skills and knowledge against one of the most extreme places on earth,” she said. “I worked incredibly hard to develop the necessary academic and physical skills needed for the trip.”

Brett’s interest in science was sparked during a sixth grade field trip to the mountains of southern California. It was there that she developed a passion for earth science. After moving to Virginia, Brett discovered Radford University and was impressed by its high-quality science and technology offerings.  

“The physics and geology majors, along with some extra math, are a perfect combination to give me the edge I need to be competitive for graduate studies,” she said. “Radford University’s College of Science and Technology has given me the tools I need to become a better scientist and researcher.”

Brett’s immediate goal is to prepare herself to be a strong candidate for graduate school where she plans to specialize in geophysics. Ultimately, she wants to conduct research in the polar regions, studying glacial mass balance, ice sheet dynamics, and paleoclimate.

Learn more about PHYS 450 and the Arctic Adventure at