Three Whitman geology majors impress at Oregon Academy of Science

geology students
From left: Katie Chapman '13, Matthew Morriss '13, Angela Cota, geology technician, and Cassandra Smith '13 at the annual meeting of the Oregon Academy of Science in Salem. Cota, a master's student and Whitman staff member, also presented the poster in the background.

Three Whitman geology majors recently presented research for their senior theses at the annual meeting of the Oregon Academy of Science at Willamette University. They were the only undergraduates to give oral presentations. 

Cassandra Smith ’13 of Camden, N.Y., Katie Chapman ’13 of Redmond, Wash., and Matthew Morriss ’13 of Austin, Texas, presented on the following topics, respectively: observing pyroxene development in experimental lava flows with the Syracuse Lava Project, textural and chemical analyses of linear and exogenic fulgurites, and paleoclimatic implications of glacial sequences in Mongolia.

“This meeting gives the students a chance to give their first professional papers,” said Bob Carson, Grace Farnsworth Phillips Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies, who each year brings a handful of Whitman students to Salem to participate in the conference. 

Founded in 1943, the Oregon Academy of Science is an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. By bringing together experts from across a variety of scientific disciplines, the organization strives to promote more research and education in the sciences, math and engineering.

Although Smith, Chapman and Morriss were the only undergraduate students making oral presentations, they more than held their own among the professionals; Carson said he has since received a number of complimentary emails from fellow scientists who attended the meeting and were impressed by the caliber of his students' work.

"Their presentations were dynamite," he said. "The session chairman complemented the Whitman students in particular."

Following their success at the Oregon conference, all three students will again present their work at the Whitman Undergraduate Conference on April 9.