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Student Spotlight


September 15, 2017

Rachel Bernard, U-Texas graduate student
Rachel Bernard is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin and former EAR Science Assistant. She is supported through the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and by a Tectonics award made to her advisor, Dr. Whitney Behr. Rachel uses xenoliths from young cinder cones in the Mojave region of southern California to better understand the rheological properties of the lower crust and upper mantle in this active tectonic environment. She has presented results of her research at several meetings, including two AGU annual meetings and a Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) annual meeting. Rachel is spending this summer at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History through the NSF-funded Graduate Research Internship Program, where she is being mentored by Dr. Liz Cottrell. During this internship, Rachel is expanding her research by making use of the museum’s extensive xenolith collection, while also gaining experience in collections management and informal scientific outreach. Rachel credits her current success in graduate school with her experience as a Science Assistant in the Surface Earth Processes section. Reading proposals and sitting in on panels for two years helped her discover her love of research and rock deformation.

EAR gratefully acknowledges help from the following three interns over the past summer. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

Ashley Jennings, EAR Summer Intern
Ashley Jennings
is originally from New Jersey, and went to school in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region for most of her life. After high school, she went on to attend Saint Andrews University in Laurinburg, NC, pursuing an Engineering degree while also on the Women’s Basketball team. She is currently attending Bowie State University in Upper Marlboro, MD. She will be a junior pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Technology, Cyber Security and will continue to be a student athlete. She plans to obtain her Master’s degree in Computer Technology and serve as a graduate assistant to their women’s basketball team.

Cydney Walters, EAR Summer Scholar
Cydney Walters
will be a junior at the University of Arizona this fall. She is a double major in Environmental Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering, and also a double minor in American Indian Studies and Education. Cydney is from the Navajo tribe and now resides in a small town in Navajo, Arizona after being relocated from Coal Mine, AZ. She is a first-generation university student and the only one in her family to pursue a bachelor’s degree. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in Engineering and a Doctoral degree in Environmental Science.
Under the guidance of Dr. Karletta Chief, she is conducting research on the water resources in the Navajo Nation, the effects of water contamination on the environment and its relation to the future of the Navajo Nation. Cydney notes that the group is working on more effective ways to clean up contamination since the incident of the Gold King Mine Spill. In addition, she is researching Indigenous perspectives on sustainable water practices in the southwest and in other native communities. She works with current high school juniors and seniors, who are interested in STEM fields, on projects that will help spark their interest in getting a higher education degree. She is very interested in hydrology and the department that she works with at the University of Arizona, Early Academic Outreach. The department implemented a new program called the Native American Science and Engineering Program that helped her gain insight about policy work, one of her future goals.

Ksean Williams, EAR Summer Scholar
Ksean Williams is from Jacksonville, Florida. This fall, he will be a sophomore at Fond Du Lac Tribal Community College (FDLTCC), where he is pursuing an Associates degree in Arts. His plan is to transfer to University of Florida or Florida Southern to pursue a degree in Geology. Ksean is a 2016 Summer Scholar at NSF, where he is compiling information on postdoctoral fellows, including their current positions and where they received their PhD, to research the impact of EAR awards on their careers. This project gives him the opportunity to interact with researchers and scientists. His future plans include completing his associates degree at FDLTCC and then completeing his bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution. Ksean eventually plans to pursue a PhD!

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date. Originally published Oct. 3, 2016.

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