More on my academic concentrations: I am a BS Geology major on the Environmental Geology track. I am also in the process of securing a minor in Religious Studies.
How I came to be a geo major: I had no interest in geology prior to coming to Lafayette. During my first semester, I took a random collection of classes, one of which was Dr. Lawrence’s “Earth’s Climate: Past, Present, and Future.” I figured I should take the opportunity to learn a bit about the world around me. Little did I know that 3 years later I would be trying to make a career out of this science.
What I like about my major and the geology department: I like that my major frequently gets me out of the classroom and into the woods, canyons, rivers, mountains, islands, etc… As for the geology department itself – it includes six of the most passionate professors I have ever met. They enjoy what they do to the point that it can get scary at times, and I love it. They have instilled within me that same passion. Most of the students are equally passionate about geology, and the secretary (Ana) and custodian (Roger) are definitely some interesting people as well. All of us come together to form a very interesting department.
My favorite geology class: Structural Geology was cool. We got to go to Wyoming for 4 days and absolutely freeze in the record-low temperatures while completing our field work. That experience was one I will never forget. Sed/Strat was fun too, as it was my first experience with naming and describing rocks in great detail. This January I am heading to Ecuador and the Galapagos with GEOL 170; I have a feeling it might be my new favorite.
A geology topic I find interesting: I like the challenge of field mapping. Just making some observations and measurements at the surface can tell me a lot about what is going on regionally, as well as in the subsurface. This thrill of discovery is what is currently driving my efforts in my thesis, and plans for grad school.
I’ve been on one geology interim trip so far: Geology of the National Parks – Summer 2009. We saw the Grand Canyon, Zion NP, Arches NP, Capital Reef NP, Canyonlands NP, and Bryce Canyon NP over the course of three weeks. This opportunity to travel with a couple professors and a bunch of old and new friends in a geologically beautiful part of the country will be hard to beat (something I hope the Ecuador trip can attempt to do!).
I’ve also done EXCEL research: Right after getting back from the National Parks trip I began my summer of Excel work with Dr. Kira Lawrence. I used some pretty cool methods to figure out how much land-borne sand was in ocean mud that had been previously collected. By noting fluxes of this land-borne sand, we were able to draw conclusions concerning increased wind-strength. Variable wind strength also indicated (at least to some degree) the overall climate of the Earth at certain times in the past.
And research with NASA, too: This past summer I was in Houston, TX working at the Lunar and Planetary Institute. I mapped the distribution of young impact craters on the surfaces of several of Saturn’s moons. By plotting these distributions with respect to size, age, and “color” patterns, we were able to learn about the impacting processes currently active in the Saturn system. It was like nothing I had ever done before, and turned out to be a very interesting project that opened my eyes to the variety that is offered under the heading “Geology.”
The geologically coolest place I’ve been: Geologically speaking, I’d say the coolest place has been the Lunar Sample Lab at NASA in Houston, TX. I got to go in and hold rock samples that came from the moon and Mars. Still, the sights from places like Zion NP and the Grand Canyon are tough to beat.
Other than drooling over roadcuts, I have spent the majority of my time: Playing Ultimate. Five tournaments a semester, in addition to two practices weekly has made my college experience fly by. The sport is a part of my life that started at Lafayette, but will not end with it. I plan on playing for as long as my body allows (and maybe a little longer). The rest of my time is spent staying active with other sports, including squash, racquetball, and whiffle ball. Movie nights with friends have always been a must as well. If I could go back, I’d probably do a lot more local hikes and adventures like that.
My post-graduate plans: I will (hopefully) be attending grad school in the western part of the country at this time next year. In fact, as I fill this out, I should really be continuing my applications. I will be working towards a Master of Science in Geophysics or Exploration Geology in order to better my chances of getting a job in the oil and gas industry. Such a job will keep me active and interested in a discipline that I really do enjoy.