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visiting assistant professor of geology

M.S., mineralogy, economic geology, and geochemistry, Western Washington University

What’s my focus:

“Mineralogy and petrology, which is the study of minerals and rocks, particularly igneous and metamorphic rocks. Minerals are what I really enjoy. They are so aesthetically amazing. If they have all the right conditions, they will form in perfectly symmetrical crystals. They are also interesting to me because they not only give us our natural resources we need for our technology and civilization, but they also tell us about the history of the Earth. Minerals form at specific pressures, temperatures, and chemical environments, so if we know how a certain mineral forms, we understand the conditions present at the Earth at the time. We can use that to understand Earth’s history and where we can find natural resources.”

What inspired me:

“I liked rocks growing up as a little kid but eventually lost interest. As an instructor, I’ve made the observation that just about every little kid loves rocks and dinosaurs. But then sometime—maybe in middle school—they lose it. And that interest remains gone for a lot of people. But then they come and take a geology class, and they rediscover their love for it. That’s what happened to me. I was a music major in college. I needed to get some additional credits, so I took a geology course over the summer. I was hooked. So I went an additional two years of school so I could double major in music and geology…I’m a rock musician. Ba-dum-dum.”

What I hope to do:

“I try to teach in a way so students aren’t just memorizing information but are internalizing the information. They aren’t going to remember every single thing about a mineral, but I want them to be able to see the bigger picture and understand how and where minerals form, their associations with each other, and how this reflects the physical and chemical environment of the Earth at the time they formed. I also want all students to understand why science is so important to us and how it works. I hope they can be excited about minerals and rocks and their future careers and attract students into the major. We need geologists because they are the people who find the resources we need for our technology, our resources, and our way of life.”

What I’m holding:

“A rock hammer is one of the basic tools of geology. One of the things that hooked me in the first place was being out in the field. To see the real deal and work outdoors is exciting stuff. You look for a weakness in the rock and just whack it. I like seeing students out in the field. You can talk about geology in the classroom and in the lab, but you see the lights in their eyes go on when they see what you talked about in class out in the real world. They are like, ‘Oh, now I see it, now I get it.’ It’s cool when they make those connections.”

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Categorized in: New Faculty