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“WHY I WANT TO BE A GEOLOGIST...”


Brandon Keough, SA-8731 University of New York Potsdam


My original desire to become a geolo- gist stemmed from my lifelong love of the outdoors and exposure to the earth sciences in an 8th grade class. As a kid, I looked forward to every camping trip, boy scout event, and hike. I read books about the Himalayas and wondered how they formed. After taking Earth Science


in 8th grade, my teacher suggested that I look into geology as a career. I spent the next few years deciding between geology and viola performance, very firmly decided on one of the two. During this time, I spent one month each summer from 2012 through 2014 volunteering on trail crews with the Student Conservation Association. After finishing my first crew in Big Sur, CA, just before entering junior year, I came home know- ing that geology was the path I wanted to take. Despite my continued motivation to pursue music, I knew that spending time in and understanding the outdoors was what I wanted my career to be centered around.


While the foundation of my desire to become a geologist has remained much the same, it has transformed to reflect specific career goals and newfound interests, specifically teaching. I continue to enjoy time spent outdoors on personal and geology- related trips. I have had the opportunity to both attend and teach as an Associate Instructor at Indiana University’s field camp in Montana. Through this experience, I have come to appreciate how field work in geology so greatly enhances con- ventional coursework. I have also realized that teaching in the field is a fulfilling experience that I wish to seek throughout my career.


For the past two years, I have been fortunate to work as a field instructor for SUNY Potsdam’s Wilderness Education department. By teaching students how to thrive in challeng- ing conditions, I have perfected skills that lend themselves to conducting research in adverse environments. This is important to me because I find geology to be most exciting in remote locations where a combination of skill sets is necessary to safely conduct fieldwork.


In September 2016, I began working as a tutor for Trio Support Services, a grant-funded program for academically


Katelyn Kring, SA-8652 Michigan Technological University


My first introduction to earth sci- ence was a class I took my sophomore year of high school. It was a required class, meaning most students put in the minimal effort necessary to pass it, but my curiosity piqued. My favorite part was when we took the opportunity to investigate a Superfund site only a


fifteen-minute walk from school. I had never experienced the ability to apply classroom knowledge in the field. Although it was an interesting trip, it was very basic, and the majority of students lacked any sort of enthusiasm.


In Spring 2013 I started looking for summer opportunities to expand my Earth science knowledge, and I eventually stum- bled across Geological Reasoning And Natives Investigating The Earth (GRANITE). Funded by the National Science Foundation and run by a professor from Lake Superior State University, this program gave eighteen high school students


16 TPG • Jul.Aug.Sep 2018


disadvantaged students. I had a particularly influential expe- rience working with a student with a learning disability. She was taking an introductory geology class for a second time and needed to pass in order to graduate. After a full semester of strong work, she earned a 2.7 in the class. I continue to value this as one of the finest experiences of my college career. I am most proud that in the process of working with this student I was able to find ways to improve her comprehension by utiliz- ing her strengths as a learner. I strongly believe that she will be a more confident student moving forward.


These experiences teaching at field camp, in the Adirondacks, and tutoring have led me to prioritize teaching in my career plans. I have yet to be involved in a day of teaching where I was unhappy to be charged with that responsibility. Whether I was sick, tired, or in the midst of an extremely busy day or week, teaching was the high point.


Research has also taken on an important role in my under- graduate education. For the past two years, I have been working to identify and understand cyclicity within the late Carboniferous Clifton Formation, New Brunswick. This has included literature review, field work in May of 2017, and data analysis. With the guidance of my faculty advisers, I am currently writing a manuscript to submit for publication this spring. This experience has led me to realize the exciting and ever-changing nature of research and I have been consistently motivated by this challenge. I consider myself lucky to have worked with advisers who challenged me to take as much responsibility for every aspect of the project as possible.


The combination of teaching and research that is the focus of a faculty position is enticing to me. I have decided to pur- sue academia because of this variable and challenging work. I look forward to years of working to be a better teacher and researcher. I also look forward to helping students discover the many avenues that geology can include. I fully believe that academia will provide me with the types of challenges that I find most fulfilling to address.


It is clear that many influences have played a role in answer- ing the question of why I want to be a geologist and what I want to do as a geologist. Every influence is still at play, from the earth science teacher who I regularly email, to research in its final stages. As I take new steps in my undergraduate career and soon in graduate school, I find a constantly developing and ever-better answer to this question.


the opportunity to immerse themselves in some of the most beautiful geology of America, located between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Black Hills of South Dakota. For two weeks we traveled to and camped in different “classrooms” ranging from sandy beaches to limestone caverns. I always loved nature and exploring the outdoors, but this trip opened my eyes to a whole new way of appreciating it. Every rock formation I saw helped to tell Earth’s 4.6 billion year old history. We learned the basics of using a Brunton compass and collecting samples, along with the importance of keeping precise notes in a field book. At the conclusion of the two-week trip I knew I had found my calling. A career in the geosciences would give me the options of traveling, working outdoors, and exploring foreign places. To pursue this career path I enrolled in Michigan Technological University’s Geological Engineering program.


The past two and a half years at Michigan Tech have immersed me in an intense curriculum which I have faced with enthusiasm. My Spring 2017 semester was the most challenging semester of college I have undertaken to date.


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