My academic concentrations: BS Geology (Geology track), minor in Religious Studies

Why I chose geology: I chose geology as a major because I’m interested in earth science and the environment.  I took one class and fell in love with the subject and the department.

What I like about my major and the geology department: Geology as a subject is challenging and engaging.  It is such a broad discipline encompassing everything from climate, fossils, inner earth processes, history and formation of landscapes, water (both on and below the surface), AND rocks/minerals (plus much more!).  People often say to be me, “why rocks?” It’s so much more than just rocks.  We study in the classroom and laboratory, but also often take field trips to study real examples of what we discuss. The Lafayette Geology Department is the best department on campus. (And any geology major would tell you the same!)  It’s such a close-knit, yet welcoming and friendly group of faculty, students, and staff.

My favorite geo classes: Paleontology, Sedimentology, and Geomorphology, although all the classes I’ve taken have been great.  I love studying the fossil record and earth surface processes.  We took some really great field trips in these classes and studied cool topics like evolutionary theory.  The faculty are so enthusiastic that it’s contagious.

A geology topic I find particularly fascinating: It’s so hard to choose because there’s so many, but I find paleontology to be the most interesting.  There’s something about studying organisms and past life on the planet that captivates me.  From dinosaurs to microscopic oceanic life, I love it.  (I know, I’m a nerd.)

The geologically coolest places I’ve been: Oh boy, I went on a road trip with some other geology majors in summer 2010 to the western US to see as many national parks as we could. We saw so many beautiful places it’s hard to pick one.  You certainly don’t have to leave the country to see many awesome, diverse geologic places.  The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Yosemite were my favorites.  But we saw everything from canyons, arches, hot springs, geysers, water falls, plains, mountains, volcanic debris, and more.

I’d been out west to study geology before the road trip: I went on the Geology National Parks Trip in 2009.  It was absolutely the experience of a lifetime and I recommend it to anyone and everyone.  We got to see so many national parks in the American southwest and raft down the Colorado River all while learning about the geology.

I’ve done independent study research: I did an independent study with Prof. Sunderlin, and it was one of my favorite classes!  I really enjoy doing independent study because it gives you a chance to self-motivate and work at your own schedule and pace.  I also feel that I accomplished something worthwhile to the scientific community rather than the usual lecture/lab course.  Our project analyzed leaf litter we collected at Jacobsburg State Park to see how representative it is of the forest around it.  This analysis can be used to better understand fossilized leaves and how representative they are of the forest environment that created the fossil.  Thanks to Prof. Sunderlin, I also get the opportunity to present a poster on this study at the Geological Society of America (GSA) regional meeting this spring.

I’ve also done research at Lafayette each summer: Each summer since I came to Lafayette, I’ve stayed on campus with faculty from different departments.  In 2008, I worked with Prof. Kney (Civ. Engineering) on the Lafayette composting program.  In 2009, I worked with Prof. Andy Smith (American Studies/Eng/Film) and Prof. Brandes (Civ. Engineering) to start the campus organic community and student garden. In 2010, I worked with Prof. Wilson (Geology) and Prof. Brandes again at the garden.  I also did a winter internship at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History inJanuary 2009 working with the Rock and Ore Collections Manager, Leslie Hale.  As much as I’ve learned from classes, these experiences have been invaluable in improving my leadership skills and personal growth.

Outside the classroom: I’m involved with the environmental movement on campus: Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP), Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (SEES), and the Lafayette Organic Garden.  I also enjoy being involved with Arts Society and the Music Appreciation Floor (MAFia).

I love to: Do yoga, garden, read, run, and cook.  My favorite things to read about are geology, local food, sustainable farming, and Buddhism.

After Lafayette: My dream is to be an organic farmer.  I’m also interested in working with campus sustainability.  One geologically-inspired life goal I have is to visit every US national park.