Spencer Gray ’17 presenting his work, "Geology of Mt. Desert Rock and Great Duck Island," at the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America's 51st annual meeting in Albany, NY.Spencer Gray ’17 presenting his work, "Geology of Mt. Desert Rock and Great Duck Island," at the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America's 51st annual meeting in Albany, NY.Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18, Gemma Venuti ’18, Ian Medeiros ’16, and Spencer Gray ’17, traveled to Albany, NY for the 51st annual meeting of the organization in late March. The conference, hosted by Castleton University and Union College, included a packed program of myriad technical, spoken, and research poster presentations over the course of three days.

Several of the students, and Hall, followed the meeting two weeks later with presentations at the Geological Society of Maine’s spring meeting, where they were awarded for their work.

COA student poster presentations at NEGSA focused on topics such as fracture networks in the Acadia National Park landscape, the geology of Mt. Desert Rock and Great Duck Island (both home to COA offshore research stations), and the rocks, soils, and biota of serpentine outcrops in Western Massachusetts.

Hall, COA’s Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Chair in Earth Systems and GeoSciences, also presented her work at NEGSA in a talk entitled, “Pliocene to present denudation in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru: interactions of climate and tectonics in a tectonically active glaciated mountain range.” Her collaborators on the work were Keith R Hodson, Melanie J. Michalak, Daniel L. Farber, and Jeremy K. Hourigan.

Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18, left, Gemma Venuti ’18, and COA Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Chair in Earth Systems and GeoSciences Dr. Sarah Hall present their work, “Glacial erosion and pre-existing fracture networks collaborate to create the Acadia National Park landscape,” at the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America's 51st annual meeting in Albany, NY.Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18, left, Gemma Venuti ’18, and COA Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Chair in Earth Systems and GeoSciences Dr. Sarah Hall present their work, “Glacial erosion and pre-existing fracture networks collaborate to create the Acadia National Park landscape,” at the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America's 51st annual meeting in Albany, NY.

“All three of the student  presentations were very well received at the NEGSA meeting,” Hall said. “Many of my colleagues from previous projects or academic institutions mentioned how prepared, enthusiastic, and articulate the COA students were during their presentations. All four of the students made great connections at the meeting and discussed potential future projects with regional colleagues stemming from their initial work.”

The Geological Society of America is a global professional society with a growing membership of more than 26,000 individuals in 115 countries and the standard bearer for earth science research in North America. Founded in 1888, the Society supports and promotes earth science professionals in the academic, governmental, business, and industrial sectors.

"Glacial erosion and pre-existing fracture networks collaborate to create the Acadia National Park landscape," by Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18, Gemma Venuti ’18, and Dr. Sarah R. Hall."Glacial erosion and pre-existing fracture networks collaborate to create the Acadia National Park landscape," by Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18, Gemma Venuti ’18, and Dr. Sarah R. Hall.

For Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla, taking part in the NEGSA Annual Meeting was exciting and eye opening.

“Getting to attend the Geological Society of America’s Northeastern meeting this past spring break was an amazing experience,” Rodríguez Padilla said.

An interdisciplinary approach

Nervous going in about being “human ecologists in an ocean of geologists,” Rodríguez Padilla and her research partner Gemma Venuti grew more confident as they took in educated feedback, walked interested audiences through their work, and felt themselves on a level playing field with more specialized students and professionals, she said. The event was the first conference presentation for either student, and left both feeling good about the work they have been doing.

“We are geologists and human ecologists, and this combination provides us with a unique outlook in our research,” Rodríguez Padilla said. “Our findings may be relevant to the analysis of issues from water quality on Mount Desert Island, to well drilling, to defining habitats for different creatures. I am glad this was appreciated beyond our school and I look forward to see where our current work takes us and COA.”

Senior Ian Medeiros, who has primarily done botany-oriented research during his time atIan Medeiros ’16 presents his work, “Documenting the rocks, soils, and biota of serpentine outcrops, in Western Massachusetts,” at the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America's 51st annual meeting in Albany, NY.Ian Medeiros ’16 presents his work, “Documenting the rocks, soils, and biota of serpentine outcrops, in Western Massachusetts,” at the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America's 51st annual meeting in Albany, NY. College of the Atlantic, said COA’s interdisciplinary approach was appreciated at the conference, and that the unique outlook it promotes brings value to the field.

“This conference was a little different than most meetings I attend, since I was surrounded by geologists instead of botanists,” Medeiros said. “But I really enjoyed this contrast, and I think that many of the other conference attendees did too. I heard for several people who were glad to see cross-disciplinary work being presented.”

Funded by grants

Science grant funding played an important role in getting the students to the NEGSA conference. The Maine Space Grant Consortium funded travel to the meeting for Gray, Venuti, and Medeiros. Travel expenses for Rodríguez were covered by the Geological Society of America.

Medeiros also had funding for his research from the Garden Club of America Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany, and the New England Botanical Club Les Mehrhoff Botanical Research Fund Grant.

Awards and accolades

Quickly on the heels of NEGSA, the spring meeting of the Geological Society of Maine took place on April 1. A somewhat smaller affair, the event proved exciting in its own right for several of the students, who were honored for their work.

Medeiros was named runner-up for the Excellent Undergraduate Presentation Award for his work, “Documenting the rocks, soils, and biota of serpentine outcrops in Western Massachusetts,” which he undertook with COA botany professor Nishanta Rajakaruna ’94.

Rodríguez Padilla and Venuti took home the Walter Anderson Award for Overall Best Student Poster Presentation for their collaborative work, “Glacial erosion and pre-existing fracture networks collaborate to create the Acadia National Park landscape.”

College of the Atlantic's research boat captain Toby Stephenson, left, joins Ian Medeiros ’16, Alba Mar Rodriguez Padilla ’18, and Gemma Venuti ’18 at the Geological Society of Maine's spring meeting at University of Maine, Orono.College of the Atlantic's research boat captain Toby Stephenson, left, joins Ian Medeiros ’16, Alba Mar Rodriguez Padilla ’18, and Gemma Venuti ’18 at the Geological Society of Maine's spring meeting at University of Maine, Orono.“After the poster session we walked over to the university’s lecture hall where we listened to the student oral presentations after which the winners of the Anderson Awards for the best undergraduate poster and talks were announced. The existence of the award was a surprise to Alba and me, so we were that much more surprised when we were called up as the winners,” Venuti said. “After our names were called we kept looking at each other and Sarah Hall out of excitement. We felt especially proud of COA because Ian Medeiros was also congratulated on the caliber of his work and presentation.”

The collegiality and the thrill of not only attending, but playing an active role in these important conferences made for very rewarding experiences, Hall said.

“This meeting and the NEGSA meeting were some of my proudest moments here at COA. The students really took responsibility and made their work their own,” Hall said. “I love seeing how excited and engaged they are while presenting their work!”