2014 GeoCUR Award

Student Awardees and Citations for the 2014 GeoCUR Award For Excellence in Student Research.

Tyler Anthony, Chapman University

Environmental Science and Policy, Nominated by: Dr. Chris Kim

Tyler Anthony is a Chapman University environmental science and policy major graduating Spring 2014. He has conducted independent student research in the Environmental Geochemistry Lab at Chapman since summer 2012, investigating a range of topics surrounding the distribution and potential health risks associated with arsenic enrichment in abandoned gold mines.  Tyler’s research has spanned a wide range of scientific methods and procedures including field sampling, particle size separation, geospatial mapping using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, simulated lung fluid leach extractions, and X-ray spectroscopic studies at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. This work contributed substantially to a formal report to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control informing their decision-making process in the remediation of the Calico Gold Mine in Barstow, CA. A larger body of Tyler’s research was recently included in a peer-reviewed manuscript recently accepted by the Journal of Aeolian Research entitled “Windborne transport and surface enrichment of arsenic in semi-arid mining regions: examples from the Mojave Desert, California.”  Tyler’s contributions to the Environmental Geochemistry lab and his dedication to independent research have been significant, and he is highly deserving of recognition by the Geosciences Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research for excellence in student research.

Alexander Blanco, University of San Diego

Marine Science and Environmental Studies, Nominated by: Dr. Bethany O’Shea

Alexander is an exceptional researcher, leader, and role model for his peers. He is incredibly driven, takes initiative, works independently, and is dogged. He did ‘ridiculous’ amounts of difficult field work, volunteered to do additional field work on other projects, and then spent many a late night and weekend processing samples and working up data. As a result, he is currently co-author on a manuscript in review.  In addition to excelling in his academic studies he is also the President of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, has served two tours in Iraq, is first in his family to get a degree, and achieves all of this while supporting three children and a wife in graduate school. At the University of San Diego we believe that Alexander represents the mission and values of our institution with both pride and honor and it is with great pleasure that the Department of Marine Science and Environmental Studies nominate him for this award.

Stephanie Bosch, The College of Wooster

Geology, Nominated by: Dr. Meagen Pollock

Steph Bosch is completing the first description and paleoecological assessment of tropical bryozoans in the Jurassic. This paleontological and geological research has not been done for the Bryozoa (colonial filter-feeding invertebrates) outside of the temperate regions (mostly Europe) in the Jurassic System, and so it fills a large gap in our knowledge of the evolution of this phylum and its place in shallow marine ecosystems. Steph has mastered the complex systematics of bryozoans so well that she and her advisor will soon be describing several new species in a journal article. This work began in Steph’s junior year when she began to learn advanced paleontological concepts and techniques in Wooster’s Junior Independent Study program. She then accompanied her advisor on an extended field trip to southern Israel to collect fossils. Prior to her fieldwork we had only a handful of fossil bryozoans from the region. Steph’s sharp eye resulted in a collection now of over 130 specimens. Steph prepared and described these bryozoan fossils during her senior year as part of her Senior Independent Study course. Because she is a double major in geology and archaeology, she has developed strong skills in organizing and interpreting a large observational and measurement data set, and she is an excellent photographer of very small subjects. Steph presented her work as a poster at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in October 2013. It was well received by professionals in the discipline, showing that she has a bright scientific future.

Jonathan Fridman, Penn State Brandywine

Earth & Mineral Science, Nominated by: Dr. Laura Guertin

Jonathan Fridman, a sophomore in the College of Earth & Mineral Sciences at Penn State Brandywine, is the campus’ selection for the first-ever Council on Undergraduate Research – Geoscience Division’s Award for Excellence in Student Research. Jon is involved with the campus tree banding project, where the campus contributes data to the Smithsonian Institution’s first global observatory to track how trees respond to climate. Jon is responsible for taking measurements around campus from designated trees to track growth over time. Because of the unusual winter season, Jon has had to go out to record measurements in below-freezing temperatures with at least eight inches of snow on the ground each and every time to date. Not once has Jon complained about the outdoor conditions, and he has even gone back and taken additional measurements to confirm his data. This is Jon’s first undergraduate research project, and because of his demonstrated commitment to his own learning and the project (even in extreme weather), there is no doubt that Jon will continue to grow as an effective undergraduate researcher as he progresses through his undergraduate studies.

Samuel Hebel, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Geography and Urban Planning, Nominated by: Dr. Mark Bowen

The Department of Geography & Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is pleased to nominate Samuel G. Hebel for a GeoCUR Award for Excellence in Student Research. Sam is an exceptional student, as demonstrated by his near perfect GPA and his inclusion on the Dean’s List every semester since he began at UW- Oshkosh. In addition to his attention to coursework, Sam has actively engaged in an independent (faculty-guided) research project over the several semesters. Sam’s research investigates the role and use of social media to articulate political grievances, organize independence movements, and engage with historical discourse. As evident by the recent Arab Spring events, social media is playing an increasingly important and visible role in ousting regimes, organizing diasporic communities, and (potentially) empowering progress. Sam’s research examines these timely issues through an in-depth case study of Barotseland, a region in western Zambia with historical and contemporary independence claims. During the course of the project, Sam mastered a variety of qualitative research skills that will serve him well in the future. As Sam does with most everything he engages in (whether academic or service oriented), he went beyond the requirements of his independent research project and submitted his work for presentation at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers. He will present his research – Reconstructing Barotseland in the digital age: Public discourse and the independence conversation in Zambia – at the national meeting in Tampa, April 8 – 12, 2014.

Sarina Patel, Middlebury College

Geology, Nominated by: Dr. Patricia Manley

The Geology Department at Middlebury College has selected Sarina Patel for this CUR Award Sarina is a senior Geology major and over the past three years she has challenged herself by taking a wide range of courses in geology and has excelled in lecture, laboratory, and field settings. During a junior abroad experience last year, Sarina enrolled in a field-based geology program in New Zealand. While mapping Banks Peninsula NZ, Sarina became keenly interested in a poorly studied sequence of Miocene volcanic rocks. Upon completion of this class-based project, she contacted faculty at Middlebury about focusing her Senior Thesis research on these rocks. We were supportive, but warned her of the difficulties of working on a project on the other side of the world. Sarina single-handedly designed a multipronged petrologic and geochemical study of these rocks. This fall she returned to Middlebury with a suite of beautiful volcanic rocks and has been engaged in an independent study that has involved detailed petrography, whole rock geochemistry, mineral chemistry, and a tedious compilation of all previously published geochemical data from this area. Sarnia’s work has been one of the most independent of any of our senior projects in recent memory. All aspects of her research on this project have been completed at a high level and expect her results to be publishable in a peer-reviewed journal. We are all proud of the initiative and hard work shown by this outstanding young scientist and look forward to watching her excel in the future.

Kristy Peterson, Brigham Young University – Idaho

Geology, Nominated by: Dr. Dan Moore

I am writing to nominate Kristy Peterson as the top undergraduate researcher in the Department of Geology at BYU-Idaho for the 2013-2014 academic year. Kristy has worked on several research projects during her undergraduate education, most notably a project with Prof. Julie Willis that focused on locating the source fault for the 1994 Draney Peak earthquake sequence. Kristy’s work on the project demonstrated research ability, independent thought, diligence, and the ability to communicate scientific ideas to others. My nomination represents the unanimous decision of our faculty. We are excited to see Kristy continue to develop her love for and ability to engage in research in the geosciences.

Elisabeth Schlaudt, Furman University

Earth and Environmental Sciences, Nominated by: Dr. Weston Dripps

Elisabeth Schlaudt graduates from Furman University with four solid years of undergraduate research experience in the geosciences. As a first year student, she participated in Furman’s HHMI Research Fellowship program during which she spent 10 weeks during the summer of 2011 in the field and in the lab looking at the role of iron in South Carolina stream systems. She presented this research at the 2012 Southeastern Geological Society of America meeting. The summer of 2012 she was selected as one of 11 undergraduates in the state of SC to participate in the Santee Cooper Environmental Program in Charleston, SC. At Santee Cooper, she researched and co-developed a recommendation for Santee Cooper to derive 10% of their sales from Renewable Energy by 2020. She went on to spend the fall of 2012 studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium and worked as an intern at the Institute for European Environmental Policy where she helped assist policy analysts in advancing an environmentally sustainable Europe through policy analysis and development. The summer of 2013 she participated in a 10 week REU program at the University of Delaware where she looked at nitrogen cycling, transport, and transformation in a shallow man made pond that is part of the Murderkill Estuary. That research formed the basis for her senior thesis, which she will be presenting at the upcoming 2014 Southeastern Geological Society of America meeting. For these four years of solid undergraduate research in the geosciences we select Elisabeth Schlaudt for this award.

Lindsay Starr, Wittenberg University

Geology, Nominated by: Dr. Sarah Fortner

Lindsay Starr is an exceptional geology student in our department. She has presented her research on the influence of climate change on spring salt loading at the National GSA meeting, and has been instrumental in starting a long term major ion monitoring program from the Great Miami River, Ohio. She has analyzed more than 600 samples using the ion chromatograph, and has been involved in every aspect of sample processing and data checking. Last summer, Lindsay traversed across the Juneau Icefield conducting glacier research. Lindsay has also served as a Peer Mentor for our freshmen seminar program and involved those students in activities beyond what was required in class. In addition, she exemplifies the power of hard work and iteration. Lindsay sets goals for herself that we know she will achieve.

Sarah Wigginton, Trinity University

Geosciences, Nominated by: Benjamin Surpless

Sarah worked with me throughout the summer and fall of 2013, investigating the evolution of macro-scale fracture networks in limestone beds, focusing especially on the relationship between these fractures and contractional fold formation. Her work involved intense structural geology fieldwork, literature review, data compilation and analysis, and laboratory analysis. Sarah showed true intellectual independence throughout the research process, clearly understood the context of her research within structural geology, and recognized the broader implications of her results for similar geologic systems. Sarah organized and presented her results at the Geological Society of America’s national meeting, in Denver, CO, where she clearly communicated her findings to the broader geologic community.  Although I worked most closely with Sarah on her research, all members of the Department of Geosciences attest to her work ethic, her fantastic attitude, and her well-established aptitude across the geologic disciplines. In Sarah, we see an excellent young researcher with tremendous promise in the geological sciences.

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