Mountain biker finds his path through research

Berry’s expansive campus gave 2019 graduate Nigel Groce-Wright the unique opportunity to combine his love for mountain biking with academic research. Now, he’ll attend graduate school at Virginia Tech on a full scholarship.

As an environmental science major with a concentration in geoscience, Nigel was able to get an up-close look at the campus around him.

“My research at Berry is looking at the rain shadow of Lavender Mountain and its effects on local precipitation,” he says. A rain shadow happens when one side of the mountain blocks precipitation from the other side of the mountain, leaving the shadowed side warm and dry and the other wet and cool.

Nigel thanks Associate Professor of Geology Tamie Jovanelly for guiding him towards research.

“My freshman year, Dr. Tamie Jovanelly introduced me to an opportunity doing research for her. She told me that by doing that research and working hard with it and paying attention to detail, I could be awarded a full-ride scholarship to a graduate school. That has happened.”

Nigel now has a clear path in front of him.

“In the future, with my academia, I want to do some geological consulting, working with rivers and improving water quality and access to clean water,” he says, “as well as pursuing a career in professional mountain biking or in the mountain biking industry, doing mechanic work or outreach, coaching and getting people into the sport.”

Though he’d been mountain biking since childhood, it was his time at Berry that encouraged his love for the sport. “Berry allowed me to really expand upon my skillset and love for it because of the availability of trails and outdoor spaces,” he says.

“Berry has really allowed me the space to self-discover, and I’ve discovered that I not only want to be a professional athlete but also a professional in the academic arena,” Nigel says. “I didn’t know any of that before I came to Berry, but with the space the close mentorships, and the opportunities with which to move forward, Berry has allowed me to really discover that about myself.”


Written by junior Shannon Rainey

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