Student Impressions of the Undergraduate Program
Dan Zablotney, WCAS '05: The Geology
Department at Northwestern is a small, close-knit community.
It is obvious that the professors love what they're
doing, and their passion for their work results in enthusiastic
and exciting teaching. Additionally, because the department
is small, I have really gotten to know the professors,
and can feel their genuine concern for my academic success.
Justin Sweet, WCAS '04: I think what I
enjoyed most about the undergraduate geology program
was the closeness and superb teaching ability of the
faculty and teaching assistants. During my time with
the department, I enjoyed classes with several highly
enthusiastic professors who really went out of their
way to make the subject matter even more accessible.
Additionally, the graduate students who served as teaching
assistants for my courses were spectacular. Aside from
helping me out with understanding the material, several
of my TAs became good friends and helpful advisors regarding
my own plans for graduate school. The small size of
the department, and the fact that it is separated from
the rest of the sciences housed up at Tech, allowed
for a family-like closeness to develop amongst the professors,
grad students, and undergrads, which is something I
shall miss after graduating.
Shawn Stevens, WCAS '03: I found the geology
department to be both rigorous and intimate. Oftentimes
I would have classes of 5 to 15 graduate and undergraduate
students. With such a small department and classes,
it was very easy to approach the professors and grad
students. This intimacy made the classes more enjoyableseveral
departmental courses ranked among my favorites at Northwestern--and
provided opportunities to pursue independent research.
My first research project on T Waves in the southeast
Pacific, for instance, grew out of a course taught by
Professor Okal. I loved the course and it convinced
me to major in the Geological Sciences. As it turned
out, though, I enjoyed the chance to perform original
research even more than taking courses.
Petra Pancoskova, WCAS '02: "As
a triple major in Geology, the Integrated Science Program,
and Environmental Sciences I had many interactions with
faculty from various departments. The faculty at the
Geology department was the most enthusiastic about helping
me become involved in research projects and challenging
me intellectually. I've especially enjoyed the diversity
of the work I've been involved in. In my four years,
I have worked on three different projects in completely
different areas of geoscience and this has given me
the opportunity to really hone my interests and become
a better scientist."
Brett Wilcox, WCAS '02: The best thing
about the geology department at Northwestern is the
opportunity to do original research. I was able to pick
a subject that interested me and choose my own course
of action. My advisor helped me turn what started out
as a summer project into an honors thesis, which was
eventually submitted for publication. By the time I
got to grad school I had already acquired many of the
research skills that I now use every day.
Marie Cahill, WCAS '99 : "Being a member
of the Geology department has been a wonderful experience.
The size of the department allows for close contact
with both the faculty and the graduate students. The
professors have been available whenever I have wanted
to talk to them. My relations with the graduate students
have been invaluable; as a result, I have pretty clear
idea about what I would want from a graduate program.
I went on two field trips with the department. The trip
to Baraboo peaked my interest in geology; it was the
first time I was able to look at rocks in a natural
setting and understand what was going on. This made
me want to go on the field trip to Colorado devoted
to the Field Problems in Sedimentary Geology. That was
a great bonding experience as well as being very educational.
Applying our book-knowledge was difficult, but satisfying."
Kathleen Carrigan, WCAS '99 : "Throughout
my involvement with the department, I have continued
to be impressed by the dedication of the faculty to
teaching and their readily apparent enthusiasm for the
research in which they are engaged. The courses which
I have taken have challenged me and provided me with
a solid background in sedimentary geology. However,
I think that an even better opportunity for learning
what the geological sciences are all about can be found
in doing undergraduate research."
Tran Huynh, WCAS '99 : "I love the sciences
- I always have. However, it was not until I discovered
the geology department here on campus that I became
truly passionate about the natural sciences. Studying
geology here at NU has enabled me to explore the world
with my eyes, while at the same time incorporating concepts
I have learned in other fields like biology, chemistry,
physics, mathematics, history, and philosophy. We have
taken field trips from which I have acquired a greater
appreciation for the outside world. Furthermore, in
the department the opportunity to pursue independent
research with a caring advisor is always available."
Amy Langenhorst, WCAS '99 : "I feel at home
in the geology department at Northwestern. I have been
doing research in the department for three years, and
I was able to go to the national American Geophysical
Union conference in San Francisco to present my research.
It was a great experience in terms of preparation for
my future and learning about current issues in geophysics.
Most of the professors in the department know me, and
their support is going to be one of my favorite memories
from Northwestern. The amount of student-professor interaction
is one of the advantages of the size of the department."
Emily Van Ark, WCAS '99 : "The geo department
has provided some of my favorite courses at Northwestern.
Concepts to which I was first exposed in my physics,
math, and chemistry courses made much more sense to
me when they were applied to geophysical problems. For
example, I finally understood the Fourier transform
when I wrote a computer program to apply it to seismograms
in the geophysical data processing course. Likewise,
the phase diagrams we studied in thermodynamics classes
become much more interesting when applied to the inside
of the Earth."
"My school year research into the
mineralogy of subducting slabs and my summer research
into the propagation of seismic waves in the Alaskan
crust were both presented at professional conferences.
My experiences at those conferences (which the Geology
Department helped fund) allowed me a glimpse of all
the exciting research going on in geophysical community
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