GESC Student-Faculty Research

Research Experience is Important

Every Hartwick Geology and Environmental Sciences (GESC) student conducts original research with a faculty member. Many of these projects are compelling enough to be presented at international conferences.

Why do undergraduate research? Here are several important reasons:

  • Completing an undergraduate research project and written thesis demonstrates to graduate faculty and employers that a student can: A) identify a basic scientific problem that needs solving, B) formulate hypotheses and a basic plan for testing those hypotheses, C) extract relevant data, D) relate that data to accepted former studies, and E) evaluate the validity of the hypotheses.
  • The process fosters critical thinking, inductive reasoning, and a certain level of creativity.
  • Working experience with the scientific method is important, but learning to creatively deal with failures and pitfalls is just as important to the development of a scientist.
  • Scientists also know that students develop patience, determination and independent work ethic by successfully completing such long-term research projects.
  • Presenting study results orally and in written form also gives the student experience with scientific communication.

Current Student-Faculty Projects

Ross Braue ’17 and Dr. Eric Johnson are investigating fluid-driven amphibolie-scapolite mineral veining in metamorphic rocks of the Carthage Colton Shear Zone, northwest Adirondack Lowlands, New York.

Zane Grunewald ’17 and Dr. Robert Titus are investigating the fossil assemblage of the Solsville Member equivalents in the upper Oatka Creek Formation (Middle Devonian Marcellus Subgroup), in the Cooperstown, New York area.

Caitlyn Hawley ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad are investigating daily changes in Susquehanna River water chemistry near Oneonta, New York.

Victoria Hubbard ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad are investigating differences in soil mineralogy at select hemlock wooly adelgid affected forests in New York.

Ali Jaber ’17 and Dr. Eric Johnson are investigating analogue modeling of rock hydrofracturing.

Elizabeth Klonowski ’17 and Dr. David Griffing are investigating subtle breaks in fossil reef development in the Waimanalo Limestone (Pleistocene), Kaena Point, Oahu, and the potential for recognizing sea-level changes.

Sarah Kohlmeier ‘17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad are developing a series of outdoor lab exercises related to water quality (Geological Education track).

Skylar Kortright ’17 and Dr. David Griffing are investigating environmentally-induced microbialite encrustations within the Cockburn Town Quarry fossil reef of the Grotto Beach Formation (Pleistocene), San Salvador Island, Bahamas.

Connor Long ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad are investigating groundwater spring inputs and their contribution to the Pine Lake water budget.

Nicole Mehr ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad are investigating the soil-water chemistry of select hemlock wooly adelgid affected forests in New York.

Samuel Nowak ’17 and Dr. Eric Johnson are investigating gold-mineralization in the greenstone belts of northern Minnesota.

Kyle Smart ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad are investigating silicate mineral weathering by folic acids.

Nick Stephan ’17 and Dr. Eric Johnson are investigating art fraud at the Yager Museum using non-destructive pigment analysis and other forensic techniques.

Hali VanValkenburg ’18 and Dr. David Griffing are investigating coral development and preservation in storm-dominated shallow marine paleoenvironments of the uppermost Ludlowville Formation (Middle Devonian) of western New York.

Joshua White ’17 and Dr. David Griffing are investigating microstructures of petrified wood from the Aguja Formation (Late Cretaceous) of the Christmas Mountains of west Texas, with the help of Dr. Douglas Hamilton (Biology Dept.)


Student-Faculty Projects Presented at Professional Conferences

Nicole Mehr ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper also co-authored with Joseph Balnis ’15 and Brian Redder ’14 entitled “The biogeochemical effects of the hemlock woolly adelgid on soil water chemistry” at the Geological Society of America Northeastern Section Meeting, in Albany, New York, March 21-23, 2016.

Kyle Smart ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper entitled “Fungi and biotite interactions in the rhizosphere of Norway Spruce” at the Geological Society of America Northeastern Section Meeting, in Albany, New York, March 21-23, 2016.

Nicole Mehr ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper also co-authored with Joseph Balnis ’15 and Brian Redder ’14 entitled “The effects of the hemlock woolly adelgid on soil water chemistry” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, in Baltimore, Maryland, November 1-4, 2015. 

Kyle Smart ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper also co-authored with Mark M. Smits, Håkan Wallander, Pavel Krám, and Jan Curik entitled “Silicate mineral alteration in the rhizosphere of Norway spruce in three catchments of the Slavkov Forest, Czech Republic” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, in Baltimore, Maryland, November 1-4, 2015. 

Katherine Popyack ’16 and Dr. David Griffing co-presented a paper also co-authored by Kaitlyn Morvan ’13 and Jason Stouffer ’05, on a paper entitled “Finding the elusive Catskill Delta: Three undergraduate research projects identify Devonian marginal-marine strata on Oyaron Hill, east-central New York” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, in Baltimore, Maryland, November 1-4, 2015. 

Jessica Domino ’15 and Dr. Eric Johnson co-presented a paper entitled “Formation of hybrid melts via magma mixing in the Cape Ann Plutonic Complex, Massachusetts USA” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, in Baltimore, Maryland, November 1-4, 2015. 

Sean Coppola ’15 and Dr. Eric Johnson co-presented a paper entitled “Soil creep rates under portions of the Hartwick College campus: Oneonta, New York” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, in Baltimore, Maryland, November 1-4, 2015. 

Kyle Smart ’17 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper also co-authored with Håkan Wallander and S. Stipp entitled “Mineral surface alterations in the rhizosphere of conifers” at the Goldschmidt Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, August 16-21, 2015.

Keith O’Connor ’15 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper entitled “Sediment and water analysis of a glacially formed lake” at the 249th ACS National Meeting and Exposition, Denver, Colorado, March 22-26, 2015.

Brian Redder ’14 and and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper also co-authored with Joe Balnis ’14 entitled “Effects of woolly adelgid induced hemlock productivity decline on soil nutrient content” at the 249th ACS National Meeting and Exposition, Denver, Colorado, March 22-26, 2015.

Keith O’Connor ’15 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper entitled “Geochemical analysis of a kettle lake in upstate New York” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 19-22, 2014.

Caitlin Pointer ’14 and Drs. David Griffing and Eric Johnson co-presented a paper entitled “A complex origin for an unusual paleosol interval within the Koloa Volcanic Series, Kauai, Hawaii” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 19-22, 2014.

Brian Redder ’14 and and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper also co-authored with Joe Balnis ’14 entitled “Water chemistry of a hemlock forest in Robert V. Riddell State Park, New York” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 19-22, 2014.

Matthew Robertson ‘13 and Dr. Eric Johnson co-presented a paper entitled “Deformation/flow mechanisms in the 6.8 km long McGregor trachyte flow, Maui, Hawaii” at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 19-22, 2014.

Catherine Winters ’14 and Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad co-presented a paper entitles “Water quality assessment of the Ouleout Creek in upstate New York at the 247th ACS National Meeting and Exposition, Dallas, Texas, March 16-20, 2014.

Back To Top