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Geosciences

Fieldwork will be a vital part of your studies: You may find yourself working with other students and faculty members in Tasmania or the Pacific Northwest. You regularly will get out into the field in Central New York. You will be encouraged to collaborate with professors on projects.

Kevin Herrera '16 with Professor of Geosciences Cynthia Domack in the Taylor Science Center.
Kevin Herrera '16 with Professor of Geosciences Cynthia Domack.

With classes, labs, theatre productions and other responsibilities, some days start at 9 a.m. and end 14 hours later for Kevin Herrera ’16. If Herrera isn’t the only geo-sciences/theatre double major you’ve ever heard of, he’s likely the most determined. He still has the first-year planner in which he meticulously listed the requirements for the wildly divergent majors. He’s en route to both. Herrera admits the combination isn’t easy to manage, but says he’s in the right place to make it happen. If you want a school “in which you can do almost anything you can imagine, there really is no better place,” he says about Hamilton College.

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Herrera spent a month doing geology fieldwork in Tasmania with a Hamilton group. Back on the Hill, he received the Edwin Barrett Prize, which is awarded at the end of sophomore year to a student who makes a significant contribution to the theatre program. His long-term goal is to be a voice actor, but he harbors other possibilities: earning a master’s degree in geology, launching a high school geo program for students who love the subject as much as he does, pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts. Herrera describes himself as more excited than nervous about all the prospects.

Caitlin Livsey
Caitlin Livsey '12 in the Galapagos standing in front of spatter cones.

A graduate’s progress: pushing toward a doctorate

Caitlin Livsey ’12, who is working on a master’s degree in geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, plans to go for a doctorate in the subject she discovered at Hamilton College. “The thing I love most about geology is that it ties together so many different areas of study. 

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Geoscience classes include biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and environmental science,” Livsey says. “There are trips into the field, work in the microscope lab, handling and learning species names of fossils, mapping geological structures using Google maps, calculating radiogenic isotopes, memorizing chemical formulas of minerals and much more.”

The passion began when her advisor at Hamilton, Professor Dave Bailey, convinced her to take his forensic and medical geology course her first year.

“Many of the upper-level geoscience classes had field trips incorporated into them. For many classes, these field trips tied everything together. On these field trips we would drive around in jitneys and stop at all sorts of outcrops. At these, we put to work all of the skills we learned in the classroom. Seeing the rocks and structures in the field and being able to identify them is what geology is all about,” Livsey says.