Continuing our new tradition of spotlighting some of the amazing people working and studying here in the Department of Geosciences, this month we're excited to shine the spotlight on M.S. student Megan Rich!
Where are you from originally?
Evans, Georgia, a suburb of Augusta.
Where did you go to school before coming to GSU?
I attended Greenbrier High School, then came to GSU for my undergrad and stayed for the MS program.
How long have you been a student at GSU?
I will be entering my fifth year in the fall, and my second year of Master's. I started at GSU in Fall 2018.
What’s your concentration?
My concentration is in Geology, but I also received a certificate in GIS, so I think of that as my secondary concentration 🙂
Which class has been your favorite to take in the Department of Geosciences?
I would probably have to say Principles of Paleontology. It is still fresh on my mind, and I refer back to content I learned in that class most frequently. I found the material really interesting, and I made a lot of friends over the course of the semester because of our collaboration on research projects. It was a lot of work, but it paid off by getting to attend a conference with my peers and have my name as first author on an abstract submission. It makes me wish there were more paleontology-related course options to take in GEOS.
What are you researching right now?
My current focus is on developing the Paleontological Resource Inventory Report for Vicksburg National Military Park (VICK). I’m also part of a grant team with Dr. Visaggi that received funding from the Paleontological Society Outreach and Education program to advance efforts in the intersections of paleontology and culture. As part of this project, we are creating resources such as ArcGIS story maps to inform students, educators, and the public about underrepresented figures and diverse narratives in the field of paleontology.
We heard about your spring internship at Vicksburg National Military Park for NPS and about your current internship in West Virginia at Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship from the DOE. Could you talk a little bit more about those experiences? How was the selection process? What have you been doing and what have you learned through these internships?
Starting with my Scientists-in-Parks (SIP) internship at VICK, I received this opportunity with the help of my advisor, Dr. Visaggi. She previously worked on fossils from the same units as those found within Vicksburg for her Master's, and she worked with Vincent Santucci, the Senior Paleontologist in the NPS, on other park paleontology projects in the past. Vince has been at the helm in the NPS to have more paleontological resource inventories done at parks; knowing that VICK was in need of one, it seemed to be a good fit to have one of Dr. Visaggi’s students take it on as part of a pilot work for a fellowship program that she has been developing for the Paleontological Society and the NPS. The natural resources manager at VICK, Chuck Beightol, also had an available SIP paleontology assistant position for this very task, so the stars aligned. I spent most of the spring semester this year working under him and surveying the park in search of fossils and geologic outcrops. This involved lots of hiking over hilly terrain and stream walking. In addition to fossils such as Pleistocene mollusks and Oligocene marine fauna of the Vicksburg Group, we also collected archeological resources like Civil War relics and Native American artifacts. I learned a lot of field techniques from thisexperience and was able to get a glimpse into the structure of the NPS and the running of a park. Since leaving this internship, I have begun writing the inventory report for VICK which is to be my Capstone Project. This has been a collaborative effort with Chuck, Dr. Visaggi, and Vincent Santucci and Justin Tweet of the NPS. We hope to begin the internal review effort in July.
My current internship this summer is not directly related to my master's work but has been a blast so far. I first heard about the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) when one of the co-founders, Reggie Spiller, visited GSU in 2019. He is a geologist and highly encouraged me to apply as a geosciences student. The application process was easy, and I discussed my interest in the work of the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM). Mentors from different DOE sites and projects would review the applications, and if they thought a student would be a good fit, they would reach out. I heard back from two researchers at different facilities, interviewed with both, and received an offer on both. I selected the position at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, West Virginia. Here, I am working on core characterization of samples from two well sites in West Virginia, specifically looking at porosity and permeability of this sandstone formation. I am working with such equipment as a Helium porosimeter, medical and micro-CT scanners, and a multi-sensor core logger. I have been learning many different software for analysis of our samples and visualization of our data. I will be presenting my project at a technical forum at the Department of Energy headquarters in Washington D.C. in August and will hopefully have the chance to turn this work into a publication. I would enthusiastically recommend this opportunity to other students in GEOS!