Newsletters

George Shaw

Prof. Shaw gave a series of six lectures at the Glen Eddy Senior Center in Colonie based on the content of his new book, Great Moments in the History of Life, currently in production at Springer. The book was inspired by the course of the same name he gave for several years before re-tiring. He also gave two lectures at the Union College Academy for Lifelong Learning (UCALL) at College Park Hall. The first was on the Origin of Life (also given to a group of amateur astronomers at the Octagon Barn in Knox, NY) and the second was based on topics covered in his recent book (with co-author Roger...

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Anouk Verheyden

Anouk Verheyden

Another great year has passed at Union. Last year I taught ENS 100 with two lab sections. I love teaching about the environment. But most of all, I love bringing students in the field to let them have firsthand experiences with the engineering techniques of landfills and water- and waste water treatment plants, as well as applying EPA methods to assess the conditions of streams, or observing how to protect endangered species in the Pine Bush. I also taught Paleontology (GEO 208) with one lab section and managed to incorporate a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, which was...

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Don Rodbell

Don Rodbell

This past year saw my field research return to southern Ecuador—to Cajas National Park to better understand the role of the El Nino Southern Oscillation on sedimentation in the region’s lakes. Cajas National Park has one of the highest densities of lakes in the world, it spans both the eastern and western sides of the Continental Divide, and it is less than 150 km east of the Bay of Guayaquil, which experiences pronounced changes in sea surface temperature during El Niños. During the summer of 1995, then students Adam Goodman ’96 and Jeff Nebolini ’96, joined me to study the glacial geology...

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Jacquie Smith

Jacquie Smith

My current research focus is the extent of microplastic pollution in tributaries of the Mohawk River. In June-July, my undergrad-uate research students, Emily Caruso ’21 and Nick Wright ‘21, and I sampled 22 tributaries and the upper Mohawk River (in Rome). The first photo shows Nick and me with the sample collected in the Plotter Kill in Rotterdam. All of the streams were sampled during relatively low-flow conditions; the Hans Groot Kill on the Union College campus was also sampled at high flow. The second photo shows Nick and Emily holding the sampling net in the Hans Groot Kill during a...

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Mason Stahl

Mason Stahl

This past year has been an exciting and en-joyable one on the teaching and research fronts. In March, I conducted fieldwork in Vietnam where I am studying high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater. On this same trip, two of my colleagues and I began some preliminary work looking at the ages and sources of carbon exported by the Red River. This work entailed following the course of the river from the coast of Vietnam all the way up to the Chinese border, collecting water samples along the way. It was great to travel to parts of the country that I had never visited before and...

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Kurt Hollocher

Kurt Hollocher

For the first part of the year I was busy pre-paring the lab for our new ICP-MS instrument, getting it installed, and trying to learn how the crazy thing works. The hardware is pretty straight forward, but the software and ideas behind the software are complicated. The software help system turned out to be pretty thin, but we’re making progress. The new instrument operates in several different modes, which give us a huge range of options for analyzing things that we couldn’t with our old instrument, at least not at low concentrations in complicated things like rocks and natural...

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David Gillikin

David Gillikin

I had a really fun year at Union. Last fall, I taught Biogeochemistry and with Professor Verheyden took 14 students to a remote island in Panama for the 10-day field component of the course. We studied carbon cycling in mangroves, coral reefs, karst streams, and swamp forests. We found that high CO2 in mangrove sediments does not lead to acidification of waters over the adjacent corals because sulfate reduction leads to high alkalinity buffering the system. Students did an awesome job and they presented the research at the NE GSA meeting last spring! I also taught Introduction to...

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Matt Manon

Matt Manon

It has been another exciting, productive year here at Union. As ever, I am energized by the passion and hard work of our Union geology students. It was a great pleasure to work with Andres Gallego this year on his senior thesis, making a long-awaited return to studying slightly metamorphosed sediments from Greece that just happen to be blueschists. After many late nights probing chlorites and chloritoids and phengites (oh my) on the SEM in the lab downstairs, Andres did us all proud by giving a killer talk at NEGSA in March. It has been a year for do-ing more local fieldwork, as this summer...

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John Garver

John Garver

My year was dominated by a sabbatical, which allowed me to catch up on a number of ongoing research projects. Most of my time was spent writing, but I did manage to start in on some new work, which involves U/Pb dating of multiple domains in zircon. We started this at Arizona where we were double-dating zircons with different rim and core dates, and then we extended this work using laser depth profiling at Calgary. This fascinating technique involves using a laser beam that is less than the width of a human hair to drill down into a zircon. As the laser gets deeper, the changes in isotopic...

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Holli Frey

Holli Frey

This has been a busy year, with more than a dozen presentations at AGU in New Orleans in December from our Dominica Keck project, a few manuscripts published, and the start of a new research project in the cen-tral Oregon Cascades. The most exciting development is that our work on the young zircons in Dominica was published in the October 2018 issue of Geology. Our Geology paper used zircon U-Th age data collect-ed by Sarah Brehm ’15 and Rebecca Babiak ’16 (both co-authors) and population distribution modelling done by my colleague Matt Manon to define periods of enhanced crystallization in...

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2018 Chair’s Note

2018 Chair’s Note

The leaves are turning and we’ve turned on the heat, so that means it’s time for the annual newsletter, with the fall Geological Society of America and American Geophysical Meetings just around the corner in November (Indianapolis) and December (Washington D.C.), respectively. The department continues to be vibrant and active, with students engaged in research projects with fieldwork around the globe and utilizing world-class instrumentation here at Union to analyze their samples. Our Geology Club was particularly active this year, spearheading our fall picnic at Prof. Rodbell’s house, the...

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John Vu’s Summer Research

John Vu’s Summer Research

John worked with Professor Heather Wat-son and John Linarelli ’19 in the Physics department on a project titled “Lead Diffusion in Iron Sulfides: Implications for the Early Global Melting and Differentiation of Iron Meteorites”. Many iron meteorites actually have radiogenic lead in their sulfide phases to allow for absolute age dating using the Pb-Pb system. They ran experiments of lead diffusion across pyrrhotites (FeS) at high temperatures to model the early core formation involving iron meteorite parent bodies. Lead diffusion will be measured using Rutherford Backscattering...

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Annika Wells Summer Research

Annika Wells Summer Research

I am currently working on my senior thesis with Don Rodbell and we are using the samples from various lakes that we gathered in Ecuador this summer in order to understand and better predict the future of El Niño events. The data will be interpreted using coulometry, magnetic susceptibility and eventually looking at tephras on the...

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Matt Cole’s Summer Research

Matt Cole’s Summer Research

This summer Matt worked with Professor Matt Manon on calibrating the departments new LA-ICPMS with known zircon ages from rocks in the Adirondacks. Matt spentthree days in the Adirondack Park collecting rocks samples and he is now processing them to isolate zircon grains for dating. Matt will be continuing this project over the next year as part of his senior...

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Will Fisher’s Summer Research

Will Fisher’s Summer Research

Will did his field work in Alaska as part of the Keck Geology Consortium. Will, will be examining the relationship between two terranes. 1) The Orca and Valdez Groups are different units that display different degrees of metamorphism that has been created by juxtaposition through strike slip faulting. 2) The Orca Group is the depositional continuum of the Valdez Group and the Contact fault simply a late structure that juxtaposes different metamorphic grades of...

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Heidi O’Hora’s Summer Research

Heidi O’Hora’s Summer Research

Heidi went to Coastal North Carolina for her field work for her senior thesis. During the academic year Heidi will be investigating the biogeochemistry of the region through water samples collected from a transect spanning from the local salt marshes to the...

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Hayley Bennett’s Summer Research

Hayley Bennett’s Summer Research

Hayley is doing research with Professor Gillikin in North Carolina. She will be looking at nitrogen isotopes in bivalves as indicators of nitrogen loading in coastal systems

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Max McGeown’s Summer Research

Max McGeown’s Summer Research

Max McGeown is a senior from Lexington Massachusetts, and this summer he’s been working with Professor Verheyden-Gillikin at Union. His project is called Temporal and Spatial variation in ion and trace mineral concentration in urban and natural streams in and around Schenectady. Max has been traveling to local Schenectady streams taking measurements with a YSI probe of pH, temperature, oxygen content, and salinity. The purpose of my research is to see the extent in which urban streams exhibit urban stream syndrome by comparing urban and rural streams. Max’s work will continue over the next...

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Mollie Pope’s Summer Research

Mollie Pope’s Summer Research

Mollie Pope is a senior from Barbourville, Kentucky, and this summer she completed fieldwork in Alaska as part of the Keck Geology Consortium. Over the next year Mollie will be working along side Professor John Garver to study the provenance of the Orca Group conglomerates as part of her senior thesis.

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Madi Corcoran’s Summer Research

Madi Corcoran’s Summer Research

Madi Corcoran is a senior from Orange, Massachusetts, and is a Geology and English Interdisciplinary Major. Madi is currently doing field work with Professor Holli Frey in Oregon! While in Oregon Madi collected samples from the South Sister Volcano that she will be studying for the next year as part of her senior thesis.

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Rebecca Lippitt’s Summer Research

Rebecca Lippitt’s Summer Research

Rebecca Lippitt is a senior from Albany, New York! This summer Rebecca has been working as a watershed intern for the Albany Water Department, sampling the waters that provide the city of Albany with drinking water. Another part of this internship has been setting up a goatscaping project at Loudonville, where goat are consuming 10 invasive species along a reservoir. After the completion of her internship, Rebecca traveled to Oregon with Professor Holli Frey where she completed field work for her senior thesis on the South Sister Volcano. This work will continue over the next year as part of...

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2018 Union College Geology Department Newsletter

2018 Union College Geology Department Newsletter

In June, we graduated twelve seniors – Hannah Barnes, Alec Been, Joshua Dunn, Andres Gallego, Jor-dan Herbert, Sarah Hickernell, Tshering Lama-Sherpa, Abadie Ludlam, Brendan McClure, Aaron Reif, Isabelle Rhodes, and Maria Van Nostrand. Many of the students presented their senior research at NE GSA in Burlington, VT in March, and two also presented at AGU in New Orleans. Jordy, Sarah, Abadie, Tshering and Maria were all awarded departmental honors after their successful public presentation and faculty question session. Sarah’s research also received recognition from the College, as she was...

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Video of GEO 305 – Biogeochemistry 2017 trip to Panama

Video of GEO 305 – Biogeochemistry 2017 trip to Panama

In December of 2017 Professors Gillikin and Verheyden-Gillikin took the Biogeochemistry class to Bocas del Toro, Panama. Watch the video to view what is involved in the field science of Biogeochemistry.

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Union College Geology Department Newsletter

Union College Geology Department Newsletter

In June, we graduated seventeen seniors – Carli Aragosa, Rupert Aranda, Carolyn Connors, Alex Dolcimascolo, Jake Faas, Liam Glennon, Alice Hayden, Alison Horst, Mike Kaye, Nolan Lescalleet, Ben Lucas, Dan Meandro, Iseinie Mendez, James Molloy, Claire Puleio, Julie Sophis, and Katherine Swager. Several students are enrolled in Masters geology programs this fall and others have found employment as environmental consultants. One student is an intern for the USGS in Troy and another is an intern for a regional bank. A few did not have definitive plans upon graduation, but we look forward to...

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2017 Chair’s Note

2017 Chair’s Note

Greetings from the Geology Department! My first year as department chair saw lots of exciting advances in our collective research endeavors and continued excellence in training our students in/out of the classroom for jobs and graduate school. This fall, we’d like to welcome two new faces to the department. Mason Stahl is an environmental engineer who has joined the faculty in the ESPE program, but he will also be supported by the Geology Department and teach courses in hydrology and environmental analysis. Mason comes to Union from environmental consulting after obtaining his PhD at MIT,...

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Holli Frey

Holli Frey

I’m teaching Environmental Geology (GEO-112) again this fall and I could almost teach the course from the daily headlines, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, multiple earthquakes in western Mexico, volcanic eruptions and evacuations in Papa New Guinea and Bali, and the repeal of EPA policies. The hurricanes have hit especially close to home, with many friends from graduate school affected by the flooding in Texas and the utter destruction of Dominica by Hurricane Maria. I’ve been doing research in Dominica with students since 2012 and we have come to know the island and its’...

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John Garver

John Garver

Research activity this year was primarily focused on understanding the tectonic evolution of Cretaceous and Paleocene strata in Alaska and California. Building on our field season in the Yakutat area, we were interested in dating rock units, and evaluating provenance of sandstones in the Upper Cretaceous Yakutat Group, which includes a mélange and turbidites. The Yakutat microplate is currently colliding with Alaska, but it has a suspect origin, and we think it correlates to rocks in southern California. This was a continuation of collaborative work with Cam Davidson at Carleton College, and...

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David Gillikin

David Gillikin

I taught Earth and Life through Time in the Fall and had a productive sabbatical this past winter and spring terms. I spent much of my sabbatical wrapping up various projects and writing manuscripts. I also continued my research in coastal North Carolina, where I am setting up a long-term monitoring experiment using clamshells to understand how the coastal creeks and bays are changing. I also spent some time in the Peruvian Andes with Professor Don Rodbell and three students. We cored five lakes in the basins around Lake Junin (all above 14,000 feet) and Jordy Herbert ’18 is working on...

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Kurt Hollocher

Kurt Hollocher

This past year I had one student, Ben Lucas, who did a project and thesis with me in 2016 and into 2017. We collected samples from the Prescott igneous complex, which mostly resides in the Quabbin Reservoir Reservation in Central Massachusetts. He presented his work at the Northeastern GSA meeting in Pittsburgh. The results of his work started out boring, because the rock geochemistry looked so similar to all the other units around it. After some fretting, looking at age dates and some fossil control in some local stratified units, and reworking some previous structural ideas, the result is...

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Matt Manon

Matt Manon

Hello Union Alumni! It has been another busy, fulfilling year teaching and working in the geology department. An especial highlight of teaching this past year was leading the lab section for geochronology, which allowed the students to take a rock sample from the Tunk Lake pluton in Maine through the process of obtaining a radiometric age, taking part in every step along the way. This meant a lot of mineral separation (including liquid nitrogen), some careful zircon picking and lots of SEM characterization. It was once again a treat to work with students on many different thesis research...

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Don Rodbell

Don Rodbell

This past year was an eventful one for me, both personally and professionally. The Lake Junin (Peru) drill core project was the main focus of my research and the Core Lab has been a very busy place as we are charged with analyzing thousands of samples for organic and inorganic carbon, grain size, and biogenic silica. Union College is the first undergraduate institution to be the lead institution in a large lake drilling project sponsored by the International Continental Drilling Program. We have managed to handle all the finances and process the samples thanks to lots of help from the...

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Mason Stahl

Mason Stahl

I’ve just arrived at Union this fall as the James M. Kenney Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering. I’m so excited to be part of the Geology department and the Environmental Science, Policy, and Engineering program (ESPE). The past several months have been full of excitement and change, between moving to Schenectady to start my first faculty position and welcoming our beautiful baby daughter Norah to the world! Before coming here to Union I worked for two years in an environmental science and engineering firm in Cambridge, MA and prior to that I was in grad school at MIT where I...

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Anouk Verheyden

Anouk Verheyden

In my last newsletter text I wrote about my participation in the Mellon Presidential Project for Global Learning and the study tour to China. Over this past year I refreshed my ENS 100 course in order to apply what I learned during the China experience. Students read the book by Judith Shapiro: China’s Environmental Challenges. The book describes the horrible environmental damage that has and still is occurring in China as a result of their very rapid economic development. While the first chapters shock the readers with stories such as “16,000 dead pigs found in Chinese river threatening...

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Jacquie Smith

Jacquie Smith

I’m happy to have joined the Geology Department as a Research Professor in 2017 after many years of close association with the department. I did my undergraduate geology degree at the University of Maine (where I grew up), my MS at the University of Washington in Seattle, and my PhD at Syracuse University. I was a faculty member at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, until the geoscience and environmental science programs were eliminated in 2016. My research interests span Quaternary geology, geomorphology, paleoclimatology, and environmental geology and hydrogeology. I worked on...

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George Shaw

George Shaw

My co-author Roger J. Kuhns and I have just completed a book. The title of the book, which I hope will be out by the end of the year is,: The Energy Maze – a Sustainable Exit Strategy. It suggests several focused legislative proposals to achieve a sustainable energy system within fifty years. I will be attending the 2017 GSA meeting in Seattle, presenting a poster on “An Open-source Code for Numerical Simulation of Drainage Basin Development” with Howard Mooers of the University of Minnesota-Duluth and several computer science students (over the past 15 years or so) from Union,...

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Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Hi everyone, hope you’ve all been having a great 2017! I can’t believe I have already finished my first year with the Geology Department at Union! This past year has been really great so far, as I continue to work with faculty and students in the Core Lab and Stable Isotope Lab. This fall, we have continued to make progress on the Lake Junin Project in the Core Lab and hosted this year’s science team meeting at Union in September. In the Isotope Lab, I am working with Professor Gillikin on continued analysis of the Gage 1 speleothem from Schoharie County, NY.  I have also been working with a...

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Notes from the field: Keck Frontier Dominica

Notes from the field: Keck Frontier Dominica

From June 9th to July 7th, Professor Holli Frey (Union College) successfully lead the premier Keck Frontier project “Hazards in the Caribbean: The history of magma chambers, eruptions, landslides, streams, and fumeroles in Dominica,” along with co-leaders, Amanda Schmidt (Oberlin), Erouscilla “Pat” Joseph (University of the West Indies), Laura Waters (Sonoma State University) and sixteen undergraduates from 15 schools across the United States, including Abadie Ludlam ’18 and Sarah Hickernell ‘18. During a two-week period, based at the Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center on...

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2017 Peer reviewed publications

Peer-reviewed papers: Publications ( * = student): Cockburn, J.M.H. and Garver, JI (editors), 2017. Proceedings of the 2016 Mohawk Watershed       Symposium, Union College, Schenectady, NY, March 18, 2016, 75 pg. Cockburn, JMH, and Garver, JI, 2016, Building a coalition of concerned stakeholders to guide watershed decisions, GSA Today, 26 (3). Cockburn, JMH, Vetta, M, and Garver, J.I., 2016. Temporal and spatial variability in slope instability within a large, complex landslide, in northeastern USA, Physical Geography, 37(2), pp.153-168 Davidson, C. and Garver, JI, 2017, Age and origin of...

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Grants

$1,290,000 awarded 2015-2018 – Deep Drilling of Lake Junin, Peru: Continuous Tropical Records of Glaciation, Climate Change and Magnetic Field Variations Spanning the Late Quaternary.  Principal Investigator: D.T. Rodbell. Organization: National Science Foundation $149,000 awarded 2014–2018- Award Supplement: Collaborative Research: RUI: Deep Drilling of Lake Junin, Peru: Continuous Tropical Records of Glaciation, Climate Change and Magnetic Field Variations Spanning the Late Quaternary. Principal Investigator Donald Rodbell with co-Investigator David Gillikin and Senior...

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Union College Water Initiative by Alex Dolcimascolo

Union College Water Initiative by Alex Dolcimascolo

During the annual GSA meeting this year, I am presenting on our Geology Club’s project, The Union College Water Initiative (UCWI). This is a project that consists of testing for heavy metal contamination within drinking water. Our motivation for this project stemmed from our own curiosity of wondering what exactly is in our drinking water. Additionally, we saw this project as an excellent opportunity to give a service to our local community. Not only is this project beneficial from a health hazards perspective, but it also advocates for the importance of safe drinking water with an...

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