The Perks of Volunteering

Last week I spent an afternoon at a nearby elementary school teaching 3rd graders about rocks. The already knew about the rock cycle, but their hand samples were pretty mediocre – pebble size, maybe. So I loaded up our cart with a couple hundred pounds of rocks  and spent the afternoon teaching those kids on “How to become a rock-detective”. It was fun and I got some cool thank-you letters back. Mackenzie clearly remembered what volcanic bombs look like:volcanic bomb
The students wrote thank you letters and asked follow up questions. Here are a few:

Q: What is your favorite rock?
A: A blue schist from Russian River, CA

Q: On a scale from 1 to 1,000,0000 how much do you like your job?
A: 999,980 (nothing is perfect, but some things come close)

Q: What do you teach those College kids?
A: Lots of stuff: Geology, Physics, Climatology, how to do research and plenty more

Q: How much money do you make?
A: Enough to feed my wife, kids, two dogs, and a cat.

Q: What do you do all day?
A: I teach, do research, visit nosy 3rd graders, spend too much time in meetings.

And, finally, I received an awesome portrait, drawn by an amazing artist.awesome portrait
I must say my new friend Angelo got it right: flannel shirt, rolled up sleeves, beard, glasses, rock cart (note the ripple marks on the sandstone!!) – the works.


ENVS Faculty Participate in Treehouse Lecture Series

Hammonasset State ParkIn April Christoph Geiss and Joan Morrison will both give lectures or lead discussions at the Treehouse. On April 8th Christoph will give an introduction to landscape photography, sharing some advice and enjoying the excuse to show cool pictures. On April 22nd Joan will lead a discussion on the connection between “Environmental Health and Human Health“. We hope to see you all.

Yes, for all you bird folks out there: these are “sanderlings” a migratory bird species fattening up on Long Island Sound before heading back north to their breeding grounds in northern Canada. Who says a geologist can’t do birds. :-)

2014 Iceland Fieldtrip is Full

2008_Iceland_groupNext year’s field trip to has filled up. Cameron, Jon and Christoph will take 12 students on next year’s trip to explore the southern part of the island. Jon’s already busy updating our gear lists, chief paparazzi Christoph bought a new camera. Cameron? Well, Cameron is looking into the authoritative works on edible Icelandic weeds. We are so ready – and it’s going to be awesome!

Utah Art Show Opens With Free Food

Utah exhibitJust as a reminder: Christoph’s exhibition of black and white photographs from Utah and Arizona has its grand opening tomorrow. Chris Guilmartin from the Calendar Office promised “southwestern-themed” food. Let’s find out what that is…

No McCookout tomorrow – artsy-fartsy grand opening instead! Wear your turtle-neck, beret, horn-rimmed glasses and artsy tweed jacket* and you are good to go.


*or your ENVS Fleece

Cameron Douglass Gives Talk About Invasive Species

Douglass_talkIn his talk entitled “How the West was won … and then lost to an alien invasion” Cameron Douglass, our Thomas McKenna Meredith ’48 Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Science (longest title in the program!) talked about the invasion of riparian habitats by tamarisk, Russian olive and other alien species. His talk focused on the effectiveness of various management approaches to invasive species removal and native habitat restoration.

Monsoonal McCookout

Torrential rains could not deter us this morning to meet for McCookout. Cameron plus students were in the field, and Christoph had to yield the picnic table on the life science quad to the janitors, but soon enough the coals were lit on the original McCookout site: The McCook Patio.
Unfortunately, within minutes, it started to rain and a few minutes later McCookout turned Monsoonout. Luckily, a little bit of rain hasn’t really hurt anybody yet, and lunch in front of the McCook auditorium was delicious!

Summer Research in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Jon Gourley and his two students, Justin and Dan, are spending the week in the White Mountain sampling soils in soon to be clear-cut forest areas. Asides from being very fashionable in their fancy ENVS T-shirts, they claim to have sampled over 200 soil samples for nutrient analyses. Once analyzed, these samples will form a baseline for soil nutrient content and how soil nutrients are affected by clear cutting.

Summer Research in Full Swing

While it is pretty quiet on campus the dungeon of McCook is as lively as ever. Justin and Dan are preparing their White Mountains research project with Jon Gourley.

Justin hard at work hardly working ….
… and Dan getting it done!
Maddie is making lots of progress identifying pollen grains,

while Jami keeps that magnetometer spinning all day long. Keep it up Jami – only 49,346 samples to go!
But most of the action happens in our newest lab: after it has been properly relabeled (check the sign by the door) Cameron and his students have been busy getting their stuff set up. All I can say is: watch out for Sarah!


Farewell Dinner for Dr. Sarah Gray

ENVS faculty at El Serape

Dr. Gray has been the first McKenna Meredith Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Science, and has spent the past two years teaching courses in environmental science, oceanography and chemistry. At the end of the month Sarah and her husband Scott will move to Savannah, Georgia, where Sarah will continue her career as an assistant professor of analytical chemistry at Armstrong Atlantic State University. Sarah, we wish you all the best!

Professors Gourley and Geiss Join the Party at Spring Weekend…

… a party of geologists that is. Jon and Christoph spent a long Saturday on a field trip highlighting the Quaternary geology of Connecticut. The trip was organized by the Connecticut Geological Society (both Jon and Christoph are founding members!) and led by Dr. Janet Stone who works for the USGS and is the expert on the state’s glacial geology. We could not have wished for a better field trip leader!

Dr. Janet Stone explaining the finer points of Connecticut's glacial geology.

We visited numerous gravel pits to look at glaciofluvial deltas – what, you don’t know what that is? Well, should have joined us on the trip…, looked at sedimentary structures and had a great time in the field. The day ended with a barbecue at Dinosaur State Park, but by that time I was too busy talking to my colleagues to take more photos.

Jon in his second gravel pit of the day.

Forset and topset beds plus a dump truck for scale - what more could one wish for?

Look at these climbing ripples!

Off to the next outcrop. Who would have thought that the Glastonbury bulky waste disposal site holds ...

... such treasures.

the Connecticut River leaves its Mesozoic valley and heads for the hills.

Some of the best glacial varves in the state.

Last stop of the day: the enigmatic pingo scars of Lake Middletown.