Maricate Conlon in Ireland at the James Madison University Field Camp

When I visited Lafayette on a swimming recruiting trip, I attended an introductory geology lecture with my host. I was hoping to pursue environmental science in college, but at the time, Lafayette did not offer this degree. I was curious to see if the geology department could offer me an alternative. After the class, I spoke with Dr. Guy Hovis who gave me some insight into the courses and research opportunities Lafayette had to offer. The following fall I made sure to sign up for GEO115 – Earth’s Climate: Past, Present, and Future with Dr. Kira Lawrence. I remember this course was not easy but it was exciting to learn about climate change from a professor who was clearly enthusiastic about her work. After taking that course and attending several lunch hour presentations from other professors in the department, I had no reservations declaring my major as Geology. After graduating in 2011, I decided to continue on with a master’s degree at Boston College focusing on research in fluvial geomorphology.


Upon completing my degree at Boston College, I began a career in environmental consulting. For the past four years I’ve worked in New Jersey and New York City conducting investigations on various project sites. With my current firm, I work for both public and private clients on project types ranging from residential high-rise developments to hazardous materials analysis for public New York City agencies to restoration of spill sites using in situ chemical oxidation. I enjoy my career because I am constantly challenged and no two projects are exactly the same. The greatest piece of advice I can give to any student thinking of a career in environmental consulting is to dedicate themselves to developing their writing and communication skills. Communication with clients and regulatory agencies is integral to success in the industry. I can say with confidence that Lafayette’s focus on communication and writing, specifically the focus on scientific writing in the geology department, prepared me very well for my career path.

Maricate Conlon ’11, Vibra-Core sampling the Bushkill Creek with Tyler Germanoski ’12, Professor Dru Germanoski (in water) and Buddy Thompson ’12.

One of the most positive aspects of life as a student at Lafayette is the opportunity to form relationships with the professors and truly see their passion for the subjects. This is especially true within the geology department due to the inclusion of field trips in the curriculum. I was fortunate enough to take trips with my professors and classmates to Wyoming, upstate New York and Delaware to see first hand the subjects we had been learning in the classroom. I will always remember a local field trip we took with Dr. David Sunderlin. While we were driving, everyone was chatting away and singing along to the radio when we heard Dave shout and point out the window, “Hey! Look at that fold!” While it was a seemingly funny and insignificant incident, I still remember this moment. His ability to spot an interesting geologic feature while driving past an outcrop on a highway demonstrated his passion. There is no substitute for learning first hand in the field from a specialist in the subject, so I highly recommend students take as many field trips as they can!

Field work in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming

Looking back, I think the most rewarding experience I had at Lafayette was graduating as a student-athlete. I had a demanding academic work-load and a commitment to swimming, but I found that both my coaches and my professors supported my efforts and achievements in both areas. During my senior year I received the Class of 1913 Trophy awarded to a student-athlete. Both my coaches and professors attended the ceremony to express their congratulations and in that moment I realized I was able to have two very important parts of my life come together because of such supportive leaders at this school. Both my swimming family and my geology department family made my time at Lafayette a home away from home and made my major more than just classes and grades. For the chances the geology department gave me to learn and grow not only as a student, but as a person, I’ll always be grateful.

If anyone has questions about my master’s degree or my career path please feel to reach out.

Here are some links to programs I’ve attended or taken courses at:

Boston College

Boston University

James Madison University Field Camp