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Marquis Scholar Andrew Mott ’07 (Corpus Christi, Texas) spent several weeks in June gathering data on wet meadow systems in Nevada’s Central Great Basin. This past semester, the geology major has developed a database and created maps to further study the interactions of earth, water, and vegetation in the environmentally sensitive area.

“I created a map using topographic, geologic, satellite, and drainage basin data to help ascertain the location and characteristics of other likely wet meadow systems,” says Mott, who traveled to Nevada with mentor Dru Germanoski, Dr. Ervin R. VanArtsdalen ’35 Professor and head of geology and environmental geosciences. “Using survey data obtained in the wet meadow systems, I also created a series of maps outlining the major landmarks of the Kingston Meadow, including vegetation, stream location, and geologic formations. I also created a 3-D profile of the entire system using this data.”

This semester, Mott, who plays the No. 1 single position on the tennis team, has used a sedigraph machine to analyze the grain size of several sediment cores taken from the Kingston Meadow.

“The purpose of this is to try to detect if there exists a layer of clay-sized sediment in the system,” he says, explaining that such a layer is needed to control the depth of groundwater in the wet meadow system. “Really the most interesting thing for me at the moment is processing that data to see if the hypothesis that a clay sediment layer controls the groundwater level of the meadow is being supported or not.”

Mott and Germanoski are collaborating through Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

Germanoski says he selected Mott for the research based on his stellar performance in a first-year Oceanography class.

“Andrew is exceptionally bright,” he says. “I gave him a to-do list this summer that I viewed as a wish list he would never get through. Four weeks later, he came into my office and told me he had completed all of the tasks. He learns very fast; ­one demonstration is all it takes for him to grasp a procedure. Better yet, he is a self-starter capable of solving problems on his own. I gave him a computer tutorial to work through to learn the surveying graphics software and within one day he was producing maps. He mastered user-unfriendly software in less than one week.”

Germanoski says that while he has “been blessed to have fantastic EXCEL students” over the years, Mott is probably the best yet.

“He has a tremendous work ethic and he is relentless in solving problems,” he says. “Whereas the natural tendency for most people is to become frustrated when they encounter a problem or difficulty, he seems to take it as a personal challenge to solve the problem. He almost seems to light up at the prospect of having to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle.”

Mott says his experience with Germanoski has been equally inspiring.

“Dr. Germanoski is an excellent mentor,” he says. “He is able to transfer the concepts
I learn in the classroom into the field, allowing me to understand what the purpose and application of our research is. He makes it easy to understand concepts that I haven’t yet been introduced to in the classroom.”

Mott, who took his first geology and environmental geosciences class last year because he enjoyed collecting minerals with his father, adds that since then, he has interacted with each member of Lafayette’s geology faculty.

“I just really enjoy all the material and all of the professors are great,” he says.

Mott hopes to continue his studies in graduate school. In addition to playing tennis, he is a member of the Geology Club. He is a graduate of Mary Carroll High School.

Chosen from among Lafayette’s most promising applicants, Marquis Scholars like Mott receive special financial aid and distinctive educational experiences and benefits, including a three-week, Lafayette-funded study-abroad course during January’s interim session between semesters. Marquis Scholars also participate in cultural activities in major cities and on campus, and mentoring programs with Lafayette faculty.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty-two students were accepted to present their work at the last annual conference in April.

Categorized in: Academic News