Cameron Fetter, a third-year geosciences student at California Lutheran University, is also @thequakehub on TikTok. With an audience of over 340k followers, his videos on earthquakes and volcanic hazards have brought him opportunities to build a bright future post-graduation.
Fetter started his TikTok account in high school knowing he wanted to study geoscience in college. But he was most motivated by wanting to share more accurate information about the topic than he’d been seeing.
“It was more so the people that were going on every other day or so being like, there’s a 98% chance L.A.’s going to have a 7.0. It’s not true,” Fetter said. “It just got to a point where I’m like, you know what? I’m going to just hop on here.”
Now in his junior year, Fetter doesn’t have as much free time to film and upload videos, but he’s still posting content about notable seismic and geologic hazards around the world.
Often filmed in his dorm room, and using a green screen effect to display reference materials, Fetter’s most recent content delves into the science behind a developing volcanic eruption in Iceland. His viewers often express gratitude for the information in their comments.
Through his rational and science-centered approach, and direct engagement with viewer comments and questions, Fetter has created a community of fans and followers.
“I think the reason why I keep doing it is because of the community of people that is still present on that account, even when I disappear for a bit and I come back and they’re all still there,” Fetter said.
Connecting with People and Opportunity
Fetter’s growing TikTok audience has helped him build connections with companies and people in geology and geosciences.
Those connections have presented him with exciting opportunities, such as a direct message on TikTok from a Red Cross employee inviting Fetter to apply for the Southern California Earthquake Center Summer Internship two years ago.
“Within a couple of days, I got a call back and they wanted me on board immediately. I did a bunch of education and outreach events with them, such as the Great Shakeout,” Fetter said.
Another connection resulted in Fetter completing his first geoscience fieldwork last summer at a two-week volcanology field camp through the University of Alaska Fairbanks this summer.
Utilizing His Campus Resources
When Fetter first came to Cal Lutheran he wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep his social media presence public or private. Fetter said people on campus ended up finding out, but have shown him nothing but unending support.
Fetter wants to ensure his connections at Cal Lutheran are strong so he can utilize them to the best of his ability. Relationships with his professors will be important in helping him get into graduate school and further in his career.
Megan Fung, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, is Fetter’s faculty mentor. She helps him explore and fulfill his interests such as guiding him to summer research opportunities, writing letters of recommendation and other things that help him reach his goals.
“Last spring, I nominated Cameron for the Coast Geological Society Student Scholarship, which he was awarded. This helped him get into and financially attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Volcanological Field School over the summer,” Fung said.
Fung first met Fetter when he was a prospective student during a campus visit. During his visit, he participated in a faculty meeting and talked with Fung about his passions and interests in geosciences. After that meeting, Fung said she was hoping he would accept Cal Lutheran.
Since then, she said Fetter has taken a number of her classes and also served as the geosciences departmental assistant last year. She and Fetter chat frequently about their shared passions for geoscience, informal education, enthusiasm for fieldwork and the subject of geosciences as a whole.
“It’s always really fun having someone who is so enthusiastic about the field that you also share a passion for in your classes,” Fung said. “Cameron is such a dynamic student and it shows in class. He often relates what we are discussing in class to his personal interests and experiences.”
Thinking About the Future
TikTok is something Fetter would want to keep with him in the long run even though there are times when it won’t be a main priority for him or his career. He said TikTok is nice to have on the side for community aspects and potential opportunities, and because of the people he has met through the app.
However, Fetter’s current main focus is obtaining fieldwork experience in geosciences and working toward a PhD after finishing his bachelor’s degree. He wants to stay in Western America for his graduate education because of the fieldwork opportunities and geological sites around the area.
“I have an idea of which types of work I’d want to go into, most of it being fieldwork, but I’m being reasonably spontaneous,” Fetter said. “I know what I love, it’s just a matter of narrowing it down the right path.”
For other undergraduate students thinking of starting their own social media presence, Fetter believes TikTok can connect them with a broad audience. Science students in particular can share what they’re learning in ways that are more accessible for people of all ages.
“I think for people who are very passionate about science and communicating that science, that it’s a great way to go about it in a much more reasonable, less alarmist sort of way,” he said.
Learn more about our undergraduate geosciences program at CalLutheran.edu/geosciences.