Science Conference Ignites Department

Members of the Castleton Natural Sciences Department recently took on the Northeast Geological Society of America Conference in Albany, New York. The three-day event featured student and professional speakers and presenters at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

“It was great to be able to share our research with other like-minded individuals, not to mention that having undergraduate research experience looks great on a resume,” said senior Geology major Graeme Pike, who alongside classmate Sam Nunnikhoven presented their year-long research. “Sam and I spent all of last summer, five days a week, hiking and bushwhacking through the Adirondacks, collecting GPS data and samples of bedrock. Our primary objective was to create a map of all the underlying rock units in our area.”

The two worked alongside Professor Tim Grover who accompanied them to the conference. Environmental Science major Montana Lofthouse, Chemistry major Catie Wielgasz, and Geology major Kim French also had the chance to present their work while additional Geology majors attended to sit in on talks and poster sessions.

The event, which gave students the opportunity to communicate their work to a diverse group of scientists and professionals from their chosen fields of study, was organized and co-chaired by the Natural Sciences Department geologists Tim Grover and Helen Mango, and brought in over 1,000 attendees.

Castleton students at a science conference“The poster session is a great way to have one-on-one conversations with potential employers or graduate school advisors,” said Chemistry professor Andrew Vermilyea. “Networking is a major theme in these conferences. It gives our students the ability to see what kind of work is occurring in different graduate programs, and for professors from those graduate programs to be impressed by our Castleton students and potentially recruit them to their program.”

Castleton students had a lot to share with the scientific community, as some of them have worked up to three years on their projects designing and implementing experiments in labs or out in the field while collecting data.

“The entire experience has been a great way to get our hands dirty, literally, in our field of study, rather than simply learning in a class room. The skills Sam and I have learned with Dr. Grover while conducting this research are very valuable and will come in handy when we move on to graduate school or to jobs in the geoscience industry,” said Pike.

Vermilyea noted the importance of the topics discussed at this year’s conference with relevance to everyone in attendance.

“Presenters and students who attended the event hopefully gained a deeper understanding about the topics that are being researched and explored right now,” said Vermilyea. “Hopefully this will spark their interest and motivate them to keep asking more questions that help us understand how the world around us operates.”