Geosciences department receives grant

The Keck Geology Consortium, a coalition of 18 liberal arts colleges across the country, has been awarded a 3-year grant of $550,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research endeavors for faculty and students.

Since its founding in 1986, the consortium has allowed 90 students from the College to participate in Keck research projects. Around the world, the grant has supported 175 research projects.

This year, David Dethier, Edward Burst Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, and Bud Wobus, Edna McConnell Clark Professor of Geology, are advising students on Keck projects. Three students, Victor Major ’15, Will Wicherski ’15 and Nell Davis ’15 were also involved with the program this past summer and will continue work throughout this academic year.

“The NSF grant to the Geology Consotrium helps bring together rising senior undergraduates for field studies in a number of research areas,” Dethier said.

Davis traveled to Iceland for two weeks this summer and worked with six students and two professors. The professors were from Pomona College and Syracuse University. In Iceland, the team researched characteristics of recent lava flows. Then, the students and faculty returned to Syracuse University and designed their own experiments using Syracuse’s Lava Project, “often trying to replicate features we saw in Iceland,” according to Davis.

Now, this year, Davis will complete an independent study at the College based on this research. She will then write a thesis with Wobus’s oversight and will also present at the annual Keck Undergraduate Symposium at Union College in the spring along with other participants in the grant.

Major and Wicherski are working with Dethier and William Oiumet ’01 to do research on the Boulder Creek watershed of the Colorado Front Range.

“Keck is a great program because it allows students, particularly those from the member schools to participate in field research that an individual college might not be able to support,” Davis said. “It also gives students the opportunity to work closely with peers and professors from a variety of institutions and to learn from each person’s different background and viewpoint.”