Elizabeth Koeman's love for geology has led her to conduct innovative research with nuclear minerals.
Koeman was accepted to the prestigious University of Notre Dame combined master's and doctoral program in civil engineering and geosciences. Her four-year program begins this summer. She will be conducting innovative research on trinitite, a mineral created after the nuclear bomb explosion in 1945, helping to understand what occurs to minerals under extreme conditions during a nuclear blast. It emerged after the chemicals melted sand and formed what came to be labeled trinitite.
"I am excited to do a new type of research on trinitite and the traveling that I will be doing," said Koeman, a senior geology major. In August, she will go to Prague to learn from geologists from around the world. She said the research will be helpful to nuclear forensics to understand trinitite, but said she is also excited to see what the research will also lead to.
Koeman's passion for geology surfaced after taking an introductory geology class led by Patricia Videtich. She has since served as a teaching assistant for Patrick Colgan and realized she would pursue geology in the educational setting. "Through this experience I loved working with my professor and students and realized I would like to teach in the future," said Koeman.
She was awarded a fellowship by the NASA Michigan Space Grant Consortium, permitting her to conduct research on organic carbon in stream sediment, which she retrieved samples from the GVSU ravines during summer 2010. She presented her findings at the Geological Society of America annual meeting, where she was also introduced to the University of Notre Dame's program.
"My favorite part has been seeing her mature as a scientist and to gain confidence in her own abilities as a scholar, in the field, in the lab, and in presenting her work at an international scientific conference," said Colgan, associate professor of geology, who also supervised her summer research project. "I believe she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to."
Koeman credits her faculty mentors and position as a student employee in Facilities Planning for leading her to this opportunity. "Without this job, I would not be able to concentrate on my schooling as much with working at the same time," she said. "This office and the people there pushed me to do my best in school and helped me get to where I am today."