Macalester Geology graduates have continued on to do some truly amazing things. Here are some updates and anecdotes from recent alumni of the Macalester Geology Department.
Please contact email@example.com if you would like to share your experiences from graduate school, work, or travel since Macalester.
Krista Jankowski, Cara Harwood, and Brady Foreman
at the Macalester Geology Alumni Event, GSA 2011
(Photo by Karl Wirth)
"If you’re reading this I want to congratulate you on your
excellent choice of becoming a geology major. While at Mac I went on three
J-term trips to the Bahamas, Costa Rica, and Crete as well as multiple trips to
Montana for fieldwork and dinosaur digs in the summer. After graduating I
bummed around in Minneapolis for a year and worked as a substitute teacher as I
applied for graduate school. I ended up at the University of Michigan for my
masters and worked on reconstructing the hydrology and paleoclimate of Montana
during the Late Cretaceous using stable isotope geochemistry. For my Ph.D. I
headed out west to Laramie, Wyoming. There is a burgeoning contingent of
Macalester alums at the University of Wyoming, and if you are planning on grad
school, or have a hankering to be a cowboy, check ‘em out! (Also check out epic
Champagne Power at nearby Steamboat Springs.) My doctoral research focused on
the fluvial response to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, a period of
extreme global warming approximately 56 million years ago. I will be graduating
this summer and am excited to be starting a postdoctoral position at St.
Anthony Falls Laboratory at the University of Minnesota in the fall
"Words of ‘wisdom’: Work hard and play nice. I will echo Liz
Hajek’s advice below on taking math, chemistry, and physics courses while at
Macalester. Geology is increasingly becoming an interdisciplinary science and
graduate school isn’t getting any less competitive. Taking these courses
earlier will prepare you and make you more competitive in the long and short
term. Also take advantage of the many opportunities to develop your writing
skills at Macalester. I feel this was one of the greatest benefits of a
Macalester education. We are fortunate to have small class sizes and professors
who are willing to spend the time to help us develop good writing skills. In
terms of graduate school…. it is not a 9-5 job. It is an all-the-time job. Do
not be mistaken. If you recognize and accept that you will be happier. In fact,
being devoted and consumed by your research can be awesomely fun. If you want
be successful at it you need to work hard, apply for grants, make sure to
publish, network, be enthusiastic, be inquisitive, and, at times, be stubborn.
There can/will be setbacks (e.g., 100’s of contaminated samples), but the good
waaaaaay outweighs the bad. Fieldwork in beautiful areas, travel with fun
people (see pictures!), and the pure joy in conquering particularly intransigent
scientific problems. If you are looking for grad school advice or whatever feel
free to send me an email or find me at the GSA reunions."
Cara Harwood ’06 and Brady
Foreman ’04 at Winifred
Tavern in Winifred, Montana after fieldwork in the
Brady Foreman ’04 and Allie Baczynski ’07 hiking in Austrian Alps before presenting at Climate and Biota of the Early Paleogene meeting in
Chris Dwyer ’05 and Genevive Mathers ’05 taking a
digging a trench in Paleocene-Eocene
deposits of western Colorado.
Kirsten Fristad ’05 examining the Beartooth Thrust from afar
in the Bighorn Basin of northwest Wyoming.
"After graduating from Mac, I worked as a substitute teacher
for Special Ed. district (NE Metro 916) and continued research in both
the geography and geology departments at Mac. During that year I had a
chance to further explore my interests and decide where to apply for
grad school. I went to the University of Wyoming for my MS and Ph.D. I then
did a post doc at the University of Minnesota, and now I'm an assistant
professor at Penn State - I love it!
advice - if you're interested in grad school, take as much math (and
physics and chemistry) as you can while at Mac. These "hard" sciences
should be just as much a part of a liberal arts education as, well, the
arts, because, like the humanities and social sciences, they provide an
important perspective and language which we can use explore and
understand the world around us. Also, to get into a good grad school for
geology it helps very much to demonstrate a solid background and
aptitude in math and physics (and chemistry, if you're geochem/paleobio
focused). And even if you're not planning on grad school for geology,
these quantitative skills, in my opinion, are universally practical and
useful, so embrace them!"
"Since graduating from Macalester in December of 2002, I completed an M.S. in Geosciences (specializing in paleontology) with Michal Kowalewski at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. I worked with Michal Kowalewski on Ray's recommendation and had an awesome time! Ray's advice on choosing a graduate school mentor was really invaluable. Graduate school dominates your personal and professional life while you're there. My best advice for Macalester geology students looking to go to graduate school is to keep in mind that you're not just looking for future colleagues but future friends as well. So make sure you choose a place where you feel like you fit in.
"From Virginia Tech, I went on to complete a Ph.D. with Derek Briggs at Yale University in New Haven, CT, which I just successfully defended on September 2, 2011. For my dissertation I did lots of field work in Long Island Sound going to beaches and out on commercial fishing vessels. I studied the effects of commercial fishing pressure and human addition of nutrients on the clam and snail fauna as well as their predator-prey interactions. I looked at live animals, dead shells, archaeological shell middens, and fossils to determine how much humans have changed the appearance of the Sound in the last few hundred years. I am currently working as a 1-yr. sabbatical replacement teaching paleontology at Oberlin College in Ohio along with another Mac geology grad, Zeb Page."
"At Macalester I was a Geology and Political Science (civil rights
and liberties focus) double major, which has impacted my trajectory. In
the department I did research with Kelly MacGregor on reconstructing
the Holocene history of the Grinnell Glacier valley through lake core
analysis. I participated in an REU program through the University of
Arizona that sent me to do more lake research, this time on near-shore
systems in Lake Tanganyika near Kigoma,Tanzania. I also spent a good
amount of time working with Ray Rogers and Kristi Curry Rogers on side
hustles. I was also a GeoClub co-chair in my time at Mac and helped to
organize/participated in the first photo contest.
"After graduation I served for two years as a Teach For America
corps member and taught HS biology in Memphis, TN. Following TFA, I
spent a summer writing and designing the new Junior Paleontologist
Activity Book and program for the National Park Service (on a tip from
fellow Mac Geo grad Elena Evans). I then came to New York City to pursue
my M.A. in Climate & Society at Columbia University. In earning
that degree, I became involved in the intersection of climate science
and disaster risk management and reduction. That led me to spend the
past year working on these issues with the Red Cross Climate Centre in
places like Bangkok, Thailand and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - both in the
field and designing educational materials for the organization. In the
fall I will begin my Ph.D work at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. I
plan to focus on the natural and social impacts to coastal systems from
land use, climate variability, and climate change.
"Without knowing and working with my classmates and Ray, Kelly,
Kristi, and Jeff, I wouldn't have taken nearly as many chances in
following somewhat disparate callings thus far, nor been nearly as
successful each time."
"After graduating from Macalester, I attended graduate school in Geology at the University of Minnesota Duluth. At
UMD, my graduate research looked at the effect of vegetation recovery on
channel morphology after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the
Philippines. After graduate school, I moved to Oklahoma City
where I am currently working for the Oklahoma Department of
Environmental Quality as a Hydrogeologist. I work on groundwater
monitoring at landfills, hydrogeologic investigations in the Voluntary
Clean-Up and Brownfields Programs, and Underground Injection Well