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Geology students dig deeper at international meeting

Posted: Jan 14, 2014


Katarena Shiner (junior, geology major, Gardner, Ill.) experiencing footprint depressions in sandstone, probably made by a large Sauropod at a dinosaur site near Denver (Photo by Charles Carrigan © 2013)


Footprints of mother and baby Iguanodons, likely walking together, along the shore of the ancient Cretaceous seaway (near Denver)

“Attending the annual meeting of The Geological Society of America was a great opportunity for our students,” said Dr. Charles Carrigan, geology professor and director of Olivet’s Honors Program. “They met and heard from professionals in their discipline, saw cutting edge science and learned a lot about potential employers and graduate schools.”

Dr. Carrigan and Professor Ryan Alexander took a group of seven Olivet students to the GSA’s 125th Anniversary Annual Meeting & Exposition, held recently at the Colorado Convention Center, Denver.

Connections with future benefits

“The lectures were so informative and interesting,” says Rachel Howe (senior, geography major, Homer Glen, Ill.). “They covered topics in teaching, archeology, paleontology. There was even one that explained how the background art on the show SpongeBob Squarepants is geologically accurate! I also learned that geologists — myself included — love awesomely terrible puns.”

In the exhibit hall, Rachel discovered a fully funded program, located in New York, which certifies science majors to teach in high school. “The goal of this program is to increase the quality of earth science classes for high school students,” she says. “I am really glad I found this program, and I plan on applying next January!”

James Fisher (senior, engineering major with a concentration in geological engineering, Wales, Mich.) enjoyed getting the “inside scoop” on graduate programs. “I was able to chat with graduate students about how they view their programs. Getting a good academic adviser is the most important aspect of choosing a graduate program. I talked to four out of five graduate schools that I intend on applying to.”

“This trip was extraordinarily beneficial for my future,” says Julia Ross (junior, geology major, Mahomet, Ill.). “I talked to and left my name and email with multitudes of grad schools.”

Julia also enjoyed meeting people from the National Park Service. “This is a career path that I am very interested in pursuing,” she says. “I talked with an employee for at least 20 to 30 minutes about internships, jobs and what my interests are. I walked away encouraged and motivated.”

Recently, Julia received a personal email from a graduate school professor at Iowa State University. “Her research is in my area of interest — storms and natural hazards — and she wanted to know more about me and my interests! Most professors don't take the time to do that, but she did. I'm starting a dialog with her, and we'll see where God takes me.”

Expanding the experience

In addition to the convention schedule, the group enjoyed:
• Attending the annual meeting of the Affiliation of Christian Geologists on Sunday evening. Dr. Carrigan is currently serving as president of that organization, and he led the meeting presentation and discussion.
• Taking a field trip to classic dinosaur sites led by Steve Smith ’81, who lives in the Denver area
• Talking with Jorden Hayes ’07, who is in the final year of her Ph.D. in geophysics program in Wyoming

At a glance:GSA’s 125th Anniversary Annual Meeting & Exposition

Attendees: 8,061
Students attending: 3,300
Technical sessions: 408
Abstracts presented: 4,795
Posters: 1,848
Digital posters: 45
Field trips: 22
Field trip participants: 523
Short courses: 29
Short course participants: 663
Exhibiting companies: 246
News stories/blog posts generated: More than 80