I had a hard time. First, I was the only student there who had never taken a geology course. I was also the only person there who didn't know anyone else. Even the son of one of the professors, probably ten years old, knew more people than I did. He also knew more about geology than I did. I felt pretty out-of-place, though I'm sure it was mostly due to my social anxiety, as people were more than willing to chat with me.
The research presentations were fascinating. I've visited the web pages of the department faculty before, but never really understood exactly what the research was about.
There were several projects between the four faculty and I wish I could remember more, but here's a short run-down:
- Limnogeology: Lake Mud! One professor is gathering samplesof the sediment at the bottoms of various lakes. Each sample is being tested for many different variables, such as carbon and nitrogen content and C/N ratios to see how the lakes have changed over the last couple hundred years. The research will help determine what needs/doesn't need to be done about things such as algae blooms and pollution.
- Microbial Geochemistry: Another professor is currently working on many projects involving microbes and how they interact with their environments, mainly how they aid the cycle of certain compounds in the environment. He studies the presence of sulfur in Yellowstone National Park and in the "caves of Frassassi" in Italy.
- Geomorphology: Another professor is studying the Appalachian Mountains where juvenile materials have been found. He is also studying an accretion in northern Nevada, deposited on top of an Au-rich site.
- Paleontology/Paleoenvironments: Another professor is studying the an ancient reef. Her research aims at studying three distinct reef growths and the faunal succession of the reefs.
Each presenter had more than just the projects I describe here. You can see that there's a lot of really exciting research going on. And that's only half of the faculty. There are another three people giving presentations sometime in January.
It's all making me wish I were in school full time. I would love to work with the professor studying the ancient reef, but I just don't have the experience or the time. Soon, though.
In other news, I got my welcome letter from SVP! I'm in! I also put some money into my SVP annual meeting savings account. If I can keep putting in $150 every two weeks, I'll have my goal by the beginning of June, 2008!
Note: Though I didn't know anyone, one specific professor made a point to sit and talk with me for a while about his research and about my education. He was very very nice and I was completely grateful for his company. It made me feel very welcome.