‘Energy revolves around the geology department’

Senior Mary Bailey found her passion in a volcanic crater.

“I took a trip out to Capulin, which is an extinct volcano in New Mexico,” said the geology student from Scranton, Pennsylvania. “That got me wanting to look into geology.”

Bailey’s interest in geology increased as she hiked through the Capulin Volcano National Monument and learned more about its history and formation. She landed on NDSU’s geosciences program because of the variety of classes in its curriculum.

Faculty members in the geosciences department have numerous specialties, including geochemistry, mineralogy, glacial geology and paleontology. They bring their expertise into the classroom and research experiences with students.

“Every single instructor that I’ve had has made the geology experience that much better because they are also interested in what they’re doing, and they want to make you interested in it,” said Bailey. “The same energy revolves around the department.”

Early on, Bailey’s instructors made an impact on her experience. She was asked by a faculty member during her first year at NDSU if she wanted to join a team-based research group for undergraduates.

“Not only have I completed that research project, but I took on my own research project that’s kind of a subset from the original one,” she said. “I was able to present data at a national conference and I learned how to process samples. We did a lot of field work and I learned the analytical side of everything. I got to see what goes into research, but also what comes out of it.”

The department’s move to the newest campus research building, Sugihara Hall, has enhanced its ability to conduct ground-breaking research that impacts how we understand the Earth’s progress through time.

Students process samples and compile data sets within research labs on campus. They also get the active learning experience collecting samples at field sites. The department has numerous trips throughout the year to regional locations like the North Shore in Minnesota. Students also have opportunities to travel to locations across the world.

“You have a lot of opportunity to see the world,” Bailey said. “Being able to put what you’re learning into perspective and actually doing the work, I think that’s really neat of NDSU. I think that’s neat of geology in general.”

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