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  • Major BS, Environmental Geology: Colorado Mesa University Minor Mathematics & Chemistry: Colorado Mesa University MS, Earth Science: University of New Mexico PhD, Geological Sciences: Arizona State University
  • Work history Research Scientist at Colorado State University

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Currently, I teach graduate and senior-level courses at CSU, including Environmental Geology and Fluvial Geomorphology. On top of teaching, I also spend a lot of my time on research projects old and new. Majority of my research focuses on the landscape evolution of the western United States, which are actually extensions of undergraduate research I did at CMU. In order to conduct this research, I spend a lot of time rafting rivers and hiking in wilderness landscapes, which parallels with my personal interests (hiking, rafting) quite well.

During my time at CMU, I was given the opportunity to experience extensive fieldwork in geosciences as well as develop significant laboratory skill from chemistry classes. These classroom experiences were instrumental in allowing me to be successful in scientific research. The close relationships I formed with faculty at CMU helped me to understand what I was getting into (as a prospective researcher and college-level teacher). Those relationships also helped me learn the course material better so I could get good grades and get into other schools after CMU.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position?

My transition into a scientist has been a gradual one that occurred mostly throughout graduate school and is on-going while I am an early-career scientist. It’s been a mostly pleasant experience to stay focused on learning and getting used to thinking about questions no one knows answers to in research. The transition from student to an independent researcher is a challenging one, and actually leads to a lot of people failing to finish graduate school and/or not getting a job. My foundational experiences before college and at CMU made it possible for me to continue to develop my thinking skills and work ethic to become an employed scientist at a major university.

One of the things I have not forgotten is the extensive array of experiences I had in my K-12 education and college. These positive experiences with many educators are largely responsible for my current success. I spend some of my time now and while I was in graduate school teaching earth science and “what college is all about” to more than 1,000 middle and high school students through various outreach programs. I try to inspire students with stories, pictures and videos from the field and by working to relate my early experiences to younger students lives as I meet with them. For those students who appreciate the possibilities of living and working outside, I think I sometimes have a significant impact on what their life decisions will be based on.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

One of my takeaways from college is that incoming students should not be shy about getting to know their professors. Learning is largely a balance between students’ and professors’ communication of how each person thinks about ideas in order to help both grow and improve in different ways. Students should remember that most of what a student gets out of college depends on what the student puts into it. So work hard, and do your best, while remembering to have fun and take breaks. For students interested in geology or other field sciences, CMU is tough to beat!

Published 9/12/2018

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