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Student Profile: Max Klotz, Stanford, CA

Headshot of Max Klotz

I got so many opportunities through the Bill Lane Center, and a nice support group for all of my academic endeavors.

By Alex Kekauoha


Stanford co-terminal student Max Klotz, B.A. ’20, grew up on the Stanford campus, often hanging out at the Dish and rec centers. But he said he never fully appreciated the Farm until he started visiting other colleges.

“That’s when I realized how special Stanford’s campus was and that I’d taken it for granted,” he said.

As an undergrad, Klotz discovered a new side of Stanford and all of the opportunities and resources available to students. A human biology major, Klotz initially intended to pursue a pre-med concentration, but soon realized he was much more interested in wilderness and environmental issues. He reached out to Iris Hui, a researcher at the Bill Lane Center for the American West (BLC), to learn more about work and research opportunities. He eventually landed an internship with the Santa Lucia Conservancy, a nonprofit conservation group that protects the ecological integrity of the Santa Lucia Preserve near Monterey, California.

As an intern, Klotz worked on various projects, such as mapping invasive species and assisting the conservation grazing program, which involved tending to a large herd of cattle. He also worked on a photography project that involved comparing historical photos of the preserve to the present day. The intricate process involved selecting historical photos with distinctive landmarks of the preserve. Then he identified the approximate location of each historical photo-point and mapped them using the MapItFast software.

“The final and most challenging step was to find the exact location for each historical photograph and take current pictures with the same framing,” Klotz said.

The full-time internship meant Klotz had to spend the summer living off-campus. He stayed in a bunk house near the preserve, and often took advantage of the area’s natural environment. 

“Once I got home for the day I could go for a jog or do these little hikes with almost no one around, which was really fun,” he said.

Through the BLC, Klotz also landed a second internship with Galatée Films, a French film production company. His job was to research indigenous and white settler music with the goal of providing the filmmakers with historically accurate information for the movie.

In addition to the internships, Klotz’s BLC involvement included taking the foundational American West class taught by senior professors Bruce Cain, David Kennedy, Alex Nemerov, David Freyberg and Shelley Fishkin. The center also provided him with two-thirds of the research funding for his thesis on national parks.

“My thesis focused on comparing the histories of the Yellowstone and Zion national parks,” he said. “This included the founding of both parks, the history of tourism, how tourism dynamics affected the ecology of the parks and what challenges they face going forward.”

Today, Klotz is working on his master’s degree in earth systems, focusing on environmental policy and land use. He credits his experiences with the BLC for helping to steer him toward his current career path.

“I got so many opportunities through the Bill Lane Center, and a nice support group for all of my academic endeavors,” he said.

To other students new to or considering Stanford, Klotz urges them to seek out the support and opportunities around campus.

“There are tons of centers and groups and organizations at Stanford that are willing to give resources, support or advice,” he said. “Look into that as quickly as possible and don’t let the four years go by if you’re really passionate about researching something.”