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Students, faculty attend annual meeting of Geological Society of America

Students and faculty from WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology attended the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) Nov. 4-7 in Charlotte, N.C.

Geosciences: Investing in the Future was this year’s theme, focusing on training and sharing knowledge to build the future of geoscience disciplines. WKU students and faculty members engaged in numerous activities, including poster and oral presentations, moderating sessions, and hosting a departmental expo booth.

Students also attended paper sessions, explored graduate school and postgraduate career opportunities, and learned more about the professional side of the geoscience discipline.

WKU students and faculty members visited with conference participants at an expo booth that showcased the Department of Geography and Geology’s programs.

The expo booth showcasing the Department of Geography and Geology and its programs was a great success, with dozens of prospective students and collaborators visiting it throughout the meeting to get information and to enter applications for scholarships offered by the Hoffman Institute’s Karst Field Studies program and Crawford Hydrology Lab.

Several students and faculty from the Hoffman Environmental Research Institute also attended the annual Friends of Karst meeting that is held at GSA, where discussions on current and new directions of research in the discipline of cave and karst studies were led by some of the world’s top karst scientists.

The following presentations by WKU faculty and students indicate the range of the department’s geoscience research efforts as well as the numerous partnerships in which the department is engaged:

  • In Situ Time-Resolved Raman and X-Ray Diffraction of Rare Earth Element Ion Exchange in Nanoporous Sitinakite by undergraduate geology major Michael Powers of Bowling Green, with Dr. Aaron Celestian (WKU Advanced Materials Institute Director).
  • Optical, Raman, and Morphological Characterization of Rock Thin Sections from the Arnold Pit Former Talc Mine Near Balmat, New York, for Asbestiform Minerals by Dr. Aaron Celestian, undergraduate geology major Melinda Rucks of Glasgow, and Mickey Gunter of the University of Idaho.
  • Under Our Feet: Avenues for Promoting Karst Groundwater Awareness and Sustainability by Dr. Leslie North (Hoffman Institute Associate Director), Dr. Jason Polk (Hoffman Institute Associate Director), Hoffman Institute staff member and geoscience graduate student Jonathan Oglesby, and Dr. Chris Groves (Distinguished Professor and Hoffman Institute Director).
  • Multi-Step Ion Exchange of Rare Earth Elements into Microporous Zorite by undergraduate Melinda Rucks of Glasgow and Dr. Aaron Celestian.
  • Mapping Karst Springsheds in Fillmore County, Minnesota: Increasingly Nuanced Interpretations, a poster by WKU geology undergraduate and REU participant Travis Garmon of Burkesville, Joseph Peters of Eastern Washington University, and Kelsi Ustapak and Dr. Calvin Alexander of the University of Minnesota.
  • Water Resource and Climate Variability in Barbados Reconstructed from Cave Deposits,a poster by geoscience graduate student Gilman Ouellette of Hawley, Pa., and Dr. Jason Polk.

    Student Emma Lord and Dr. Chris Groves displayed their research at a poster session.

  • Relationships Between Land Use and Water Quality of the Karst Aquifer Beneath Bowling Green, Kentucky, a poster by NSF REU undergraduate Emma Lord, Dr. Chris Groves, and Tim Slattery of the City of Bowling Green Public Works Department.
  • Using Cave and Carbonate Deposits for Paleoenvironmental Research in the Karst Landscape of the Vaca Plateau, Belize by Dr. Jason Polk, Hoffman Institute staff member Benjamin Miller, and geoscience graduate student Nick Lawhon of Gallatin, Tenn.
  • Capacity Building for Karst Water Resource Development in Southwest China’s Karst Region through Training and Education, a poster by Dr. Chris Groves, Drs. Yuan Daoxian, Zhang Cheng, Cao Jianhua and Lu Qian of the Karst Dynamics Laboratory, Institute of Karst Geology, China, and Jiang Yongjun of Southwest University, China, and Hoffman Institute faculty Drs. Jason Polk and Leslie North.
  • Influence of Karst Hydrology on Geochemistry of Muskeg Drainage and Spring Resurgences, Tongass National Forest, Alaska by graduate student Melissa Hedrickson of Presque Isle, Maine, Dr. Chris Groves and Jim Baichtal of the U.S. Forest Service.

Students attending the GSA meeting included Kort Butler, Veronica Hall, Kegan McClanahan, Travis Garmon, Laura Osterhoudt, Dan Nedvidek, Beth Tyrie, Gilman Ouellette, Nick Lawhon, Melinda Rucks, Michael Powers, Emma Lord, and WKU faculty members Dr. Chris Groves, Dr. Aaron Celestian, Dr. Leslie North and Dr. Jason Polk.

More than 6,000 people attended the 2012 GSA meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

For many of the student attendees, this was their first national scientific conference, including WKU geoscience graduate student Beth Tyrie. “GSA was a very productive conference for me,” she said. “It gave me opportunities to develop eye-tracking and GIS concepts related to my thesis, attend talks pertaining to my thesis and WKU course topics, and allowed me to meet with PhD programs to find potential advisors.” Tyrie is completing a thesis on the use of eye-tracking to investigate learning outcomes of karst environment visualizations under Dr. Leslie North.

“The department and Ogden College always provide strong support for faculty and students attending national and international conferences,” noted Geography and Geology Department Head Dr. David Keeling. “Professional experiences like this are great training for students and they provide faculty with opportunities to network, build research relationships, and promote the outstanding quality and international reach of our geosciences programs.”

Contact: Jason Polk, (270) 745-5015.

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