University News

In GeoChem, greater density the result of compression at depth

By
Contributing Writer
Monday, September 26, 2011

Despite admitting a similar number of prospective students as in previous years, the Department of Geological Sciences matriculated 18 graduate students this year, a large increase compared to the average class of 12 students.  Though the department had no trouble funding its incoming class, the growth has caused minor space issues.

The department is “a little stretched for good space,” said Professor of Geological Sciences Tim Herbert, chair of the department. He said he hopes to have “more space for research and grad student offices” in the future. But most students do not feel cramped, he said. The department occupies the bottom two floors of the GeoChem building.

Though first-year Will Daniels GS said his office is called “the bullpen,” he said he has plenty of work and storage space. “If I didn’t know there was a space issue, I wouldn’t have noticed.”

Stephanie Spera GS, who shares an office with one other student, agreed that space is not an issue. “We have a fridge and a printer,” said Spera, who is also a first-year. “So with office space we are totally fine.”

Having a larger class is generally positive, Herbert said. “The good news is it’s not only a lot of students, but it’s actually an extremely good group,” he said. “Having such a strong and large class actually means they will learn as much from each other as from us professors, probably.”

Geology as a discipline is gaining popularity due to growing concern over climate change, Herbert said. He also attributed the appeal of the department to the integration of its graduate and undergraduate programs.  

“If you come here you get to work with great undergrads in the labs or as sort of colleagues,” Herbert said. “That works really well and makes us sort of different from some of our big competitors.”

The University also offers a significant amount of interdisciplinary work, including programs with earth sciences, marine biology and the planetary sciences. Daniels previously worked with the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. The University’s partnership with the Cape Cod facility prompted him to matriculate this year. Daniels looks at sediments to study changing environmental conditions over time.