Earth Sciences

Laura Kehrl ‘10EARS-LauraKehrl
F09-S10 D-plan:  R-R-R
Earth Sciences Major, Environmental Studies Minor

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

Since the Earth Sciences department is so small, there are many opportunities to get to know your professors and to conduct research. The Stretch is an excellent opportunity to get to know your professors even better, and you’ll even learn the names of all the dogs on the 2nd floor of Fairchild. However, along with the many benefits of a small department comes the fact that many courses are not offered every year. If you plan your major in advance, this should not be that big of an issue.

Important info for potential majors:

If you are considering an EARS major, definitely take EARS 1. The other introductory courses are not as directed towards an EARS major, and you will be glad that you took EARS 1 when the Stretch rolls around.

Talk to me if:

You are debating between an ENVS and EARS major, or started out down the policy side of environmental issues and are now more interested in the science.

Most valuable academic info learned:

Talk to your professors about classes and life. They have many connections outside of Dartmouth, and they might help you find the opportunity of a lifetime.

Favorite class and professor:

My favorite class by far was the Stretch. I majored in Earth Sciences because I love being out in the field, and the Stretch is three months of experiential learning in the field. It is also a great opportunity to get to know your fellow majors and professors incredibly well.

Major classes taken:

CHEM 6; PHYS 13,14, EARS 1,15,34,44,45,46,47,50,62,64,70,79; ENVS 1,2,15,30,80

Major journey:

I entered Dartmouth knowing that I wanted to pursue a degree suited towards a job in environmental issues, but I didn’t make a decision on a major until Junior spring. When I had to declare a major sophomore spring, I declared a double in ENVS and EARS to continue the indecision. Over time, I’ve realized that I enjoy science more than policy and therefore recently decided to drop my ENVS major to a minor.

Major-specific activities:

research in glaciology with Professor Hawley

Thesis status:

My thesis will be in glaciology with Professor Hawley.  The field data will be gathered this summer in Svalbard during an REU.

Other activities:

research in glaciology; endurance (cycling and running) training; Cabin and Trail; Moosilauke Ravine Lodge; EDPA

Off-campus program:

Stretch, 08F

Internship experience:

WISP Internship with Mukul Sharma (07W, 07S); I used mass spectrometry to measure the isotopic ratio of osmium in the Connecticut River. Presidential Scholarship with Bob Hawley (09W, 09S); I investigate the relationship between temperature and compaction rate of glacier ice, primarily through MATLAB. Glaciology and Paleoclimate REU with Ross Powell and Julie Brigham-Grette in Svalbard (09X).

sliderStefani Ruper    ’10EARS-StefRuper
F09-S10 D-plan:  R-R-R
Earth Science

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

My favorite thing about the rocks department (aside from the stretch) is the people, particularly the professors and the grad students.  It’s a very familial, social department, full of potlucks and foosball tables and IM teams that undergrads are more than welcome on.  The professors are so happy to talk and work with us, it’s amazing.  My least favorite thing about the department is the infrequency with which all of the courses are offered: sometimes once every two years, sometimes once every four, and there are also many other areas of Earth Science we could study more deeply but can’t because it’s a small department.

Important info for potential majors:

Try to take an upper-level course or two before going on the stretch—it’ll give you a good feel for understanding how the Earth works.  EARS 1 is the best intro course and the best preparation for upper-level courses.  Talk to a professor early about research.  The profs here have tons of projects they’re working on and love having undergrad help.

Talk to me if:

You’re struggling with which science to major in, or are feeling interdisciplinary, since my concentration is biogeochemistry.  Also if you’re interested in soils or in any extra-terrestrial science.

Most valuable academic info learned:

Grades are important in the sciences, but maybe not as important as interesting research or getting good recommendations from your advisors (this is what the grad students tell me).  It’s important to know that in order to go to grad school in the Earth Sciences, we need to have background in two of chemistry, physics, or biology, with math skills.  Also, this is all important, but not as important as exploring our interests and doing stuff that we love.  So don’t stress about it, either.

Favorite class and professor:

The stretch.  Its awesome.  We get to know and learn from and become friends with a lot of the faculty.  Carl Renshaw is a fantastic professor, as is Leslie Sonder.  Bob Hawley and Erich Osterberg are phenomenal people who teach good classes.  James Scott is a wonderful 1:1 professor, but doesn’t have the most organized classes.  In any case each professor has his/her own strong suit, and they’re all good, reasonable people.

Major classes taken:

CHEM 5, 6, 51; EARS 5, 31, 45, 46, 47, 74; BIOL 11
(senior year courses): CHEM 41; EARS 62, 72, 89, 124; BIOL 15

Major journey:

During sophomore spring I took Paleobiology with professor James Scott, and we talked a lot about the origin of life.  I love studying microbes and Earth chemistry now because I feel like I can get at a profound question—the origin of and limits to life—with a science that is challenging and adventurous and fun.  I am also thinking about applying my knowledge to soil science and agriculture, which seems really fulfilling, too.

Major-specific activities:

Research (08X, 09W, 09X) part and full time in Professor James Scott’s geobiology lab.  09X research is funded by a NASA space grant, since I am doing work on my thesis, but am also working on other projects, including analyzing carbon isotopes in meteorites, microbial life at high pressures, and detecting bacteria in volcanic glasses.

Thesis status:

Planned, with proposal submitted and approved by James Scott, on the kinetics of microbial iron reduction coupled to methane oxidation in the Archean ocean (with implications for global carbon cycles).

Other activities:

Fusion Dance Ensemble-VP; UGA; DOC trips; SLC

Off-campus program:

Chinese FSP in Beijing 07F; Earth Science FSP (the Stretch!) in Western North America 08F

Internship experience:

I worked with the Dartmouth Sustainability Initiative my freshman year, and with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute in Colorado my freshman summer.  Other than that all of my work has been in the Earth Science labs here at Dartmouth.