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Geology and environmental geosciences major Deborah Katchen '03 (Randolph, N.J.) gained major hands-on experience in her field this summer through a two-month internship at Aquatek in Livingston, N.J.

The student was well prepared for the job by what she considers an excellent geology and environmental geosciences department at Lafayette.

“Every professor in the geology department is part of Lafayette's strength,” she says. “They are always there to help if you have questions or just to talk to. They are interested in the students learning the material for the course. For example, I had Professor (Guy) Hovis for two classes last semester, and he spent much of his time helping me understand material for both classes. It seems very important to all professors in the geology department that the students learn the material and can apply it when they are working.”

Katchen completed many different tasks, including performing Geoprobe soil borings and evaluating lithology – the gross physical character of a rock or rock formation — at various contaminated sites in New Jersey. She observed shallow monitoring well installation using hollow stem auger and air rotary drill rigs, and evaluated “split spoon” samples for lithology at leaking underground storage tank sites.

Katchen performed groundwater sampling following New Jersey Technical Requirements for site remediation and sampled groundwater using the Environmental Protection Agency's low-flow and three-to-five-volumes purge methods.

Her other jobs included performing site inspection for site assessment reports; collecting influent and effluent water samples from a groundwater treatment system; tabulating and evaluating groundwater and soil analytical data, comparing the results to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection criteria; collecting water and other data from monitoring wells using a product interface probe; and researching historical water management practices at a former manufacturing site.

“I found all of the experience interesting, but the thing I enjoyed most was being able to apply what I had learned in class at Lafayette to a real situation and further understand the concept,” says Katchen. “I learned what it is like in the ‘real world.' I also learned how to put the whole picture together. For example, you put in wells to see if there is contamination. Then you take samples and are able to develop this story of how the contamination got to where it is and where it will go next. In addition, you also have to figure out what to do about it.”

After graduating, Katchen hopes to work for an environmental consulting firm or become an earth science teacher.

“The internship gave me hands-on experience and helped me realize that I may want to pursue a career in hydrogeology,” she says.

A member of Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection, Katchen is an officer in Delta Delta Delta sorority and Panhellenic Council and participates in numerous intramural sports. She was a Lafayette school representative and geology teaching assistant last year.

Categorized in: Academic News