Geology student Ian Dunning '16 in Zuni Salt Lake, near Quemado, N.M.

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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