April 29, 2010
Travis Brown (right), a senior geology major from Beverly, W.Va., motors across Lake Linea in Svalbard, with the mountains he studied in the background.
WOOSTER, Ohio - Students at The College of Wooster continue to take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities provided by the Keck Geology Consortium. Earlier this month, for example, two Wooster students - Travis Brown and Terry Workman - presented the results of their Senior Independent Study Projects (Wooster's nationally acclaimed undergraduate research experience) at a Keck Conference, which was hosted by ExxonMobil in Houston. Later this summer, junior Jesse Davenport will be working on a Keck project in Montana.
Brown, a geology major from Beverly, W. Va., traveled to the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic Ocean north of Norway to conduct a study on lichenometry (a technique for dating glacier movements in the Arctic) to evaluate its effectiveness. Workman, an archaeology major with a minor in geology from Hillsboro, Ohio, worked on a project on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska that involved an analysis of lake cores and their role in trying to understand past climate change.
Brown is planning to take a field course in hydrogeology this summer and then possibly join the Peace Corps for a year. Workman will be going to graduate school at Miami University of Ohio, where he will study environmental change in either Jordan or Chile this fall.
Davenport, a geology major from Granville, Ohio, has been working with his advisor, Shelley Judge (assistant professor of geology at Wooster), to prepare for his upcoming field experience. "During the first portion of the semester, we met weekly to discuss the literature on the geology of southwest Montana," said Judge. "These discussions evolved into Jesse's Junior I.S., which turned out to be a paper documenting the geologic setting and general rock types in the field area he will visit this summer. This work will become the basis for his Senior I.S. focusing on a mountain-building event known as the "Big Sky Orogeny," which occurred between 1.78-1.72 billion years ago."
Davenport is excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Keck project this summer. "It will be great to work with a group of professors and students I've never met but have the same interests in geology that I do," he said. "The College of Wooster offers an amazing program to its students in geology by providing opportunities to explore a field that they can call their own through I.S. I am very grateful for the opportunities that I have been given through the department, and I feel that the Keck experience will benefit me immensely, not only for my I.S. work, but also in my attempt to go to graduate school and beyond."
Funding for these projects comes from the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) program and the 18 member institutions that comprise the Keck Consortium. The program includes four weeks of summer research (field and/or lab work, depending on the project), continuing research during the academic year (jointly advised by a project faculty member and a sponsor at the student's home institution), attendance at the annual Keck Geology Consortium Symposium, and a publication in the annual Keck Geology Consortium Abstract volume.
"This past year we have had an exciting range of projects in many different sub-disciplines, including climate, geophysics, petrology, geomorphology, paleontology, and geochemistry, and in a wide range of locations," said Greg Wiles, associate professor of geology at Wooster. "This coming year the sites include Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Mongolia, and Panama."
Wooster is a founding member of the Keck Geology Consortium, which focuses on enriching undergraduate education through the development of high-quality research experiences. As an independent organization, housed at Franklin & Marshall College, the Consortium establishes its program priorities based on the educational philosophies of the member colleges: (1) dedication to excellence in undergraduate education; and (2) providing students with comprehensive and rigorous educational opportunities that promote intellectual growth, integrity, responsibility, and a sense of both individuality and membership in community.
"The Consortium has been a fundamental component of the undergraduate-research landscape for 22 years, supporting more than 1,100 students from over 80 schools across the nation," said Wiles. "Keck has a tangible meaning in the geoscience community - talented students gaining field experience supported by dedicated, master teachers."
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