Category: Research

What I learned from rejection

I had my first big rejection last week. I mean big. The crushing, leaves you speechless type of rejection. In February, I submitted a proposal for a National Geographic Fulbright fellowship. I wasn’t very optimistic, until I found out in late April that I was a finalist. Suddenly, the impossible didn’t seem quite so impossible,




Summer Research: Introducing the Buckmarlson Banshees

Try to find Buckmarlson on a map and you won’t have much luck.  It’s the newly created place name for our field area in Virginia’s west-central Piedmont.  Buckmarlson is a portmanteau word we created based on the names of the three counties in which our geologic studies are taking place: Buckingham, Albemarle, and Nelson counties.




The Longhill drainage ditch, when knickpoints move

Last Fall I started a ‘series’ focused on rivers and their watersheds.  Six months have elapsed since that first post and another write up is overdue. Rivers and their drainage networks can conjure up images of adventure, mystery, and perhaps even romance.  Consider the mighty Rio Orinoco with its waters plying the jungles of Venezuela




An open letter to SOMOS and MANOS seniors, May 2014

I make my living with words and, most times, I’m able to say something close to what I’m thinking and feeling. I am rarely at a loss for words, even if they’re not the right ones. Each year, however, I find myself inadequate even in this regard as some of you, ignoring my best advice,



Senior Research Saturday 2014

The year-long senior research project is an important piece in the William & Mary Geology major.  All W&M Geology majors complete an intensive independent project and in the process create new knowledge about the earth and the environment.  The project culminates in a thesis and a professional-style presentation.  For the past three years we’ve turned




Rolling Deep with the Penrose Conference on Orogenic Systems

This past week I co-convened a Geological Society of America Penrose Conference focused on Feedbacks and Linkages in Orogenic Systems.   An orogen is a geologic term for a mountain belt, and orogenesis describes the processes at work in mountain belts (derived from Greek- oros for “mountain” and genesis for “creation/origin”).  The world’s great mountain belts




Chaguite, Cuje, Clinic

We have worried about the value of our annual clinic since we first opened the doors in 2007.  We intended NOT to be a duffle-bag medicine project—arriving with U.S.-based notions about what our patients might need and dropping off short-dated medicines in small quantities.  Eight years later, we’re still trying to find ways to make



It’s Not Linear; 2/28/14

In November 0f 2009, I wrote that SHC was becoming MANOS and that the timing seemed more than incidental.  (And, it happened even before Chrissy Sherman joined the team.)  It seemed clear to me then that the project was evolving from the “service learning” group of 2006 and was finding its way.  The new name,



Persistence and Partnering. 2/27/14

The MANOS advance team (Johnathan Maza ’15; 5th project trip); Stephanie Wraith ’15, fourth project trip; Sarah Martin ’17, 1st project trip; and me, 8th project trip) met with Dr. Benito Blanco, Medical Director of the MINSA clinic in Totogalpa, Nicaragua.  We summarized our medical and community efforts over the past seven years in Cuje



The Power of Teamwork: How I Know I’m Heading Down the Right Career Path

When I was in high school (and up to this point in college) all my school work had been rather lonely. In high school, group projects were only in class. In college a group meets just to delegate work for the individual members to do at home, and then meets up again to fit everything