On the first day of Fire to Ice (GEOL 100), I joke about how my main goal is for students to become really obnoxious on road trips because they’ll have so much to enthusiastically share about the landscape as they drive through it. It’s a delight when students return from fall break and say something like: ‘It happened! I told my parents all about the meandering river we drive past every day but never noticed before.’
I also love teaching Earth and Planetary Materials (GEOL 200). Here, students learn that the geologic features that we observe on the landscape can be traced through the rock record, down to individual crystals, and farther still to the chemical components and bonds holding them together. It’s powerful to understand the world at such different scales. This is the class where students first encounter the high-tech analytical equipment we use in geology, like scanning electron microscopes and X-ray diffractometers.
Also, the opportunity to teach interim abroad courses in Iceland (GEOL 180), New Zealand (GEOL 140), and Italy (INDS 201) is a real highlight. It’s hard to beat hiking up a volcano with students, hearing it rumble, and connecting with our dynamic planet while we learn about it in real time.
My Research Interests
I’m a geologist who specializes in volcanoes. I want to know why and how magma bodies form, evolve, destabilize, and erupt. Using evidence locked in crystals, I study modern volcanoes to understand the early Earth (billions of years ago!).
I also study how volcanic hazards and climate change are intimately linked to one another. The majority of my work is on Icelandic volcanoes. I love that my research involves hiking and camping in remote parts of the world in the summer, and transitions into sophisticated analytical work as the fall and winter wear on. I weave my research throughout all of my classes.
I also collaborate with several students in RUMBLE, the Research Unit on Magmas, Bedrock, Lavas, and Eruptions. I have funding from the National Science Foundation to support students as EXCEL Scholars, and to take them abroad for fieldwork, around the country to work in specialized analytical labs, and to conferences to share their findings with the world.
It’s exhilarating to see students have that first ‘aha!’ moment in research—whether it happens on the side of a volcano in Iceland, looking down a microscope in my lab, or plotting data to test a hypothesis. It’s rewarding to see students land their first successful grant proposals, present their findings at a conference for the first time, and make the big decision to go to graduate school or launch into a career to start their life after Lafayette. It’s a privilege to work so closely with such talented student scholars.
I love the liberal arts experience, and I love that broad, interdisciplinary, creative thinking is the norm here at Lafayette. It’s what drew me here. It’s great to hear students talk about how deciphering images in an art history class has parallels to interpreting microscope slides in GEOL 200; how their experiences as an economics minor have them especially interested to learn about the formation of ore bodies in GEOL 321; or how a magma world-tour project in GEOL 307 shaped their decision to study abroad.
My Personal Interests/Community Work
I love my little College Hill life. I like supporting students in my classes at their concerts, plays, art exhibits, and sports events. I’m a faculty mentor for the Lafayette volleyball team, and I try to catch every home game (go Leopards!). In my personal life, I like to hike, mountain bike, garden, and read in my hammock. I’m originally from Olympia, Wash., and lived for quite a while in Nashville, Tenn., and I like to visit and reconnect with home whenever I’m able.