Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18 studies an outcrop exposure of the Samas-Calientes fault in Southern Peru. Rodríguez Padilla was recognized by the American Geophysical Union for her research in the <span style="font-weight: 400;">tectonophysics subfield of the <a href="/academics/areas-of-study/math-physical-sciences/">geosciences</a>.</span>Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18 studies an outcrop exposure of the Samas-Calientes fault in Southern Peru. Rodríguez Padilla was recognized by the American Geophysical Union for her research in the tectonophysics subfield of the geosciences.

Rodríguez Padilla, a native of Melilla, Spain, is passionate about geological fieldwork and investigation. Her research into the structural controls of earthquakes in Western Quebec nabbed the Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) at the 2017 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, held in December in New Orleans. Rodríguez Padilla was recognized for work in the tectonophysics subfield of the geosciences.

Just the top 3–5% of conference presenters in each section are awarded an OSPA. The conference included more than 20,000 oral and poster presentations.

Seismicity plot by Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18 of all earthquakes in the Western Quebec Seismic Zone since 1985, with data from the Canadian National Seismogram Network and the United States Transportable Array. Earthquakes are color-coded by depth.Seismicity plot by Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18 of all earthquakes in the Western Quebec Seismic Zone since 1985, with data from the Canadian National Seismogram Network and the United States Transportable Array. Earthquakes are color-coded by depth.Rodríguez Padilla has absorbed as much as possible about the earth sciences and taken every opportunity for fieldwork as a College of the Atlantic student, she said. She took part in the South American Earth Systems course in 2015 that featured a two-week field expedition to the Andes mountains in Peru, joined the Field-Based Professional Development Program for ESTEM (Environmental-STEM) Students in and around Yosemite National Park in California, and has worked with geoscience curricular material and research materials alongside her own personal coursework. And she shows no signs of slowing down.

“I find research to be a very stimulating process. I love the challenge of delving into a complex question and considering the different steps and paths that are involved in solving it,” Rodríguez Padilla said.

Rodríguez Padilla’s award-winning research began during a summer internship at McGill University in Montreal. Work on “Earthquake source parameter and focal mechanism estimates for the Western Quebec Seismic Zone in eastern Canada” continued at COA under the direction of Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Chair in Earth Systems and Geosciences Dr. Sarah Hall, and through a collaboration with University of Maine researcher Dr. Sam Roy.

Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18 conducting geological research on Cadillac Mountain in <a href="/about/bar-harbor-maine/acadia-national-park/">Acadia National Park</a>.Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18 conducting geological research on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.Rodríguez Padilla’s interest in geology began when she was a child in Northern Africa. With her family, she would frequently spend weekends hiking and exploring natural areas around Morocco, she said.

“My parents would just let me roam freely and look at things,” she said, crediting those youthful explorations as the seed of her interest in fieldwork today.

The American Geophysical Union is a nonprofit organization of 62,000 geophysicists with a mission to “promote discovery in Earth and Space Science for the benefit of humanity.” To achieve this, the organization publishes scientific journals, sponsors scientific meetings and supports educational and outreach programs. Once a year, at the fall meeting, the group gathers the best and brightest minds from around the globe in the pursuit of high quality science, knowledge, and a more sustainable future.

Rodriguez Padilla also presented her work at the 2017 annual fall meeting of the Geological Society of America, non-profit organization with over 26,000 members in 115 countries dedicated to supporting the growth of discovery and research in the geosciences, as well as regional and local meetings: Northeastern Geological Society of American spring meeting (2016), Geological Society of Maine spring meeting (2016), and the Acadia National Park Science Symposium (2017).

Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18, left, enjoys a moment during the <a href="/live/news/909-national-science-foundation-awards-field-based">Field-Based Professional Development Program for ESTEM (Environmental-STEM) Students </a>in and around Yosemite National Park in California with fellow COA students Gemma Venuti '18 and Patricio “Pato” Gallardo '18.Alba Mar Rodríguez Padilla ’18, left, enjoys a moment during the Field-Based Professional Development Program for ESTEM (Environmental-STEM) Students in and around Yosemite National Park in California with fellow COA students Gemma Venuti '18 and Patricio “Pato” Gallardo '18.

College of the Atlantic is the first college in the U.S. to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in human ecology – the study of how humans interact with our natural, social and technological environments. Each student develops their own course of study in human ecology, collaborating and innovating across multiple disciplines. Both The Sierra Club and The Princeton Review named College of the Atlantic the #1 Green College in the United States in 2016 and 2017.