Name: Sandra Melgar
Class Year: 2022
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Internship Organization: Summer Science Research
Job Title: Research Intern
Location: Bryn Mawr College
My research opportunity consisted of observing and analyzing rocks I personally collected during a fieldwork trip to western Utah. These rock samples were my main data focus for my research which date back to the end of the Cambrian, about 494 million years ago. Some of these rocks contain preserved animal fossils that lived and interacted with the environment at the time. These fossils allow us to interpret the life of the ocean floor during this period and how it has changed over the years.
This research opportunity interested me because having a fieldwork experience always seemed like the highlight of undergrad to other people I met before in the geology department. I was always curious to know how research evolved from a couple of rocks to a full presentation poster and I'm happy to have answered my own questions. This experience was a very eye-opening and made me realize I would like to one day work in the field and pursue my own interest in how the Earth works. I personally enjoy the outdoors very much, so I was able to not only experience camping in a desert but also get to travel across the country and explore some national parks.
After this opportunity I became closer to my professors and learned about their own research projects and some of their courses during the year as well. Since I’m approaching the end of undergrad, I also wanted to get some guidance for my senior project, and I am glad to say my professors did just that through the whole research journey. They always encouraged us to pursue our own interests and they also provided really good resources to get more information from. I also became familiar with the machinery in the labs which was very interesting to learn how to use. The process of creating data was very long and very delicate but now I take what I learned and apply it to my future projects. I learned how to independently work with the data I had collected and used knowledge from previous classes to make possible interpretations for each unit of data. Making geologic connections from research already published was also a skill I acquired to make sure my interpretations were clear and backed up for my poster presentation.
Over the course of this research having control over my own schedule was crucial and it made me learn how to prioritize deadlines and become more interested in my own research. I didn’t know what to expect before starting research, but I experienced how quickly things can change and the importance of strategizing to get through changes. I am very thankful for the opportunity and I am glad I was able to experience doing research with the geology department and other classmates. Going into senior year I keep in mind all the hard work that I put into this research to push myself towards the end of undergrad.
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