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10 April 2013

Core skills for geology majors

A recent discussion that I’ve been having with my fellow grad students lately has been about this question: What are the core skills undergraduate geoscience students should have when they graduate?

Sometimes, because of crazy course schedules, majors joining the department late in their college career, etc etc., it seems like skillsets can be acquired haphazardly or in an order that doesn’t benefit the student. Those of us who teach as grad students sometimes find that it’s necessary to do more review than we’d expect when we’re dealing with a lab or a course. Although review isn’t a bad thing, it can take away time from the main course topics. As a teacher, my goal is to get my students to learn the course material as effectively and efficiently as possible – and make it stick.

So, like any good geoblogger, I’m going to ask for help ‘crowdsourcing’ the answer to this question. If you could put together a guide of core skills for geology students, what would be on it? What do you want them to know before they attempt specific classes? What should they know by the time they graduate to be well-grounded in the field?

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8 March 2013

My experience as a woman in the geosciences

Being deep in the throes of thesis-wrangling has left me little time for blogging lately, but as a woman and a geoscientist I definitely thought it was important to write a little bit about International Women’s Day, and about my own experiences. I first became aware that this was a day of celebration when my graduate advisor and I encountered a parade in downtown Xela when we were in Guatemala doing fieldwork for my thesis. It was a beautiful day and the parade-goers were lively and excited and enthused.

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24 February 2013

So you want to be a volcanologist?

In addition to my blogging and on-again-off-again relationship with Twitter, I like to take my geologizing to places outside the office. Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with a girls’ STEM club at my old elementary school about being a volcanologist. I actually do this fairly often, and I’m always really impressed by the questions the students come up with. They’re always inquisitive and thoughtful, and often catch me off guard – which is good!

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11 January 2013

A foray into teaching – and a request for advice!

This semester, as part of an attempt to keep myself funded through the end of my PhD (always an uphill battle), I’m going to be teaching a smallish section of our introductory environmental science course. And the main topic is…deep breath…climate change! Not being an expert on climate change, this has me perusing background information to get ready for the content, but also looking at techniques for teaching controversial environmental topics. And I’m looking for help!

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22 December 2012

5 years already?!

Wow.

It certainly doesn’t seem like I’ve spent a significant chunk of my life blogging, but the calendar doesn’t lie: it’s been 5 years since my first post on Magma Cum Laude. When I first started, I never really imagined that this would become such a big part of my professional identity as a geoscientist, but I can’t say that I would have changed the path I’ve taken – because it’s led me to some really interesting places! Since I began this blog with the intent to write about becoming a grad student in volcanology, I’ve had the opportunity to write about everything from eruption triggering to fossiling in Western New York to numerical modeling to how many jelly beans it would take to equal the mass of a lava dome. Seriously, everything.

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12 December 2012

AGU 2012 Days 4-6

As always, I’m behind on my AGU updates (possibly because I didn’t have a chance to breathe until Wednesday!) There’s so much to do, and Tuesday was the first day that the exhibits were open, which is always a time sink. Wednesday was really the first day that I had a chance to get into the science side of things and listen to some talks and visit posters. I find talks are interesting but somewhat unsatisfying in that you don’t necessarily get much time to ask questions or discuss the topic. Posters, on the other hand, pretty much guarantee that you’ll have a chance to chat about the work with the PI.

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5 December 2012

AGU 2012 Days 1 – 3

I’m forgoing my day-by-day posting this year because my schedule has been nuts – I’m hardly able to finish a meeting before I have to move on to something else!

On Sunday afteernoon I arrived to happily clear skies and a relaxing ride into San Francisco. Naturally, this meant I had to immediately start going to meetitngs – training for moderrating my first oral session, and our annual student representative meeting. (Students, watch out for new developments in your sections, including webinars, mentoring programs, and new volunteer opportunities throughout AGU! The Union Council has already added three studeent and three early-career seats, and they’re looking to get students involvedd in even more ways.)

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12 October 2012

Field trip etiquette

I just spent three days on another great field trip to Bancroft, Ontario, and while I will post photos of the fabulous structural features we were observing, I thought I’d also put down some thoughts about how to comport yourself as a participant on a geology field trip. Some of this is fairly specific to students, but a lot of it goes for ‘grown up’ geologists as well (and hopefully we already know it!) Most of it is things I’ve observed people either doing well on a trip, or forgetting to do – it’s always a mix. (I screw these up myself from time to time, so it’s not like I’m a paragon of field trip virtues. I have to remind myself to do all this as well!)

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17 August 2012

So you’re a new geosciences grad student…

So you’re a new geosciences grad student…and you’re getting ready to start your first semester! Hopefully you’ve chosen a great department and surrounded yourself with professors and students who will excite and challenge you. You’re probably also plowing through a bunch of paperwork and maybe taking a training course on how to be a teaching/graduate/research/etc. assistant. If, at some point in all this, you say “What the heck did I get myself into?” and start feeling panicky, don’t worry – we all do this. Here are a few things to remember as you dive into the deep end of the pool:

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10 August 2012

Mini maars

A while back, I wrote about UB’s exciting new facility for experimental volcanology, which is part of our Center For Geohazards Studies. The facility itself isn’t anything like a big fancy laboratory – it’s out in the country and is mainly open space. But that’s a perfect setting for making holes in the ground, which (in a very basic sort of way) was the whole point of the most recent test. Volcanologists and engineers from UB, Italy, and New Zealand were all present for this explosive event:

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