Kiel Finn; Undergraduate Student
- Hometown/High School?
I’m from Milwaukee, and grew up on the north end of the city, in Glendale. I went to Nicolet High School where geology wasn’t really taught.
- Year in School and expected graduation date?
I’m a junior and expect to graduate in 2012.
- What brought you to UWM?
Well, I took a year off of school after I graduated from Nicolet and lived in Washington State for a while. I moved back after a year and decided to come to UWM because it was easy to get into and I could quickly get accepted. My original plan was to transfer to Madison after a year, but I decided to stick around. It helped that it was the only few schools in the state that offered a major in the Geosciences.
- What convinced you to major in Geosciences?
Honestly, in high school I took a business class where we had to investigate different careers that interested us. I first found Geological Engineering, and the school in Washington that I had planned on attending had that degree. When I moved back I just decided to go into Geosciences because it seemed interesting. I got really lucky with the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and I was good at geology.
- What field of study would you like to go into and how would you describe it to a prospective student?
Well, I’ve recently become very interested in research, rather than the industry side of geology. I’m really interested in geophysics (mostly in the field of magnetic mineralogy) but many disciplines of geology interest me like geochemistry, tephrostratigraphy, volcanology, planetary geology, and geochronology. The growing field of magnetic mineralogy is fascinating because it’s a really cool blend of geochemistry and geophysics. Researchers use a variety of very specific (magnetometers) and general equipment (Transmission Electron Microscopes) to conduct their research, which makes for very interesting work.
- What's been your best experience so far?
So far, I would have to say my experience working for Dr. McHenry as a lab assistant has been my best experience. She has taught me a lot about sample preparation and research in general, and has been invaluable in helping me get more involved in the Geology department here at school. However, I’m really excited to go on the Iceland Trip this summer.
- Have you gotten the opportunity to participate in field trips, field work, or travel as part of your education?
I’ve been a many field trips due to classes, but the biggest thing is the Iceland trip that I’m going on this summer. When I’m there, I’m planning on being able to collect samples for an independent project that I’ve been working on for the past year or so. So the trip as a whole will be a great experience for me for a variety of reasons.
- Have you gotten the opportunity to participate in a student research project while at UWM?
In X-Ray Analytical Methods I’m working with Dr. McHenry’s samples from Oldoinyo Lengai developing a project for class and hopefully something that I’ll present at the Student Symposium this semester. Next year I hope to take some independent study credits for a my own research project that will be about magnetic characteristics of Icelandic basalts.
- What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in geology?
Having a good work ethic, never being satisfied with the work I do, and having a mentor. I’ve developed a very good relationship with multiple professors here in the department that have helped push me, but my real mentor is a particular graduate student that has been instrumental in my increased involvement here in the department. I also took every opportunity that came my way that enabled me to succeed.
- How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
A great environment. Fun, open, and relaxed. The opportunities to do some really interesting things are available in this department, but you have to work for them. If you have the drive, this department can be wonderful. But even if you don’t, the department as a whole is a great place to be because of the wonderful professors here at UWM.
- Do you have any advice that you would give to a student who is new to the Geoscience major at UWM?
Get involved in the department. Talk to professors outside of class, ask questions, be nosy, talk to graduate students, and don’t be afraid of the third floor of Lapham West. It can be a little intimidating at first, but the third floor is where all the magic happens.
- What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
The people and the city itself. Anyone who calls Milwaukee boring has probably never spent much time out of their house. It is a great city with some fantastic opportunities for anyone who wants to have some fun. The great beer helps too.
- What are your plans after you graduate?
Go straight to graduate school where I want to graduate in two years. Whether or not I get my doctors is up in the air, but I’ll come to that when the time comes. I love research, but I would like to work in the industry for a little while.