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Mapping A Volcano's Tracks — on Mars

As an undergraduate his academic passion was down to earth, but now he has higher aspirations. Specifically, Ian T. Dunning ’16, who was a Hamilton geosciences major, has discovered planetary geology. He’s working on a master’s degree in the subject.

Dunning loved earth science in high school, and his studies at Hamilton fueled that interest. His professors helped him take it to a higher level. “Only after talking with a few of the professors in the Geosciences Department at Hamilton did I realize that graduate school would be right for me. I truly felt that I was not done learning, and they advised me that graduate school would be the best fit,” Dunning says.

As a master’s student in the geological sciences program at the University of Buffalo, Dunning, whose field is planetary geology, is mapping what appears to be a volcanic deposit on Mars. The deposit is called the Medusae Fossae Formation.

“I did not have any experience with planetary geology prior to attending UB, but I find it so fascinating that we can remotely observe the geology of other planets and planetary bodies and formulate hypotheses from these observations,” he says.

Long term, he’s open to a variety of career paths. He’s thought about a job with NASA or the United States Geological Survey. Or maybe he’ll go into teaching. He’s working now as a graduate teaching assistant. “I am currently considering pursuing a doctorate degree as well, so only time will tell where I end up,” Dunning says.

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