Bill Jacobson; Ph.D. Student

Bill JacobsonHome grown in Wisconsin, Bill received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a Master of Science degree from Emporia State University in Kansas. After completing his Masters degree, Bill was employed in the minerals exploration industry in Nevada and Minnesota. During this time, he coordinated drilling programs to determine the extent of ore bodies and examined over 200,000 meters of rock core. Bill was also involved with three-dimensional numerical modeling to delineate ore bodies, making geologic maps, and evaluating geochemical and geophysical data analysis.

In the fall of 2009 Bill decided to enroll at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee to pursue his long-term interest in studying glaciers and their associated deposits. In particular, Bill is interested in studying how glaciers move when underlain by sediment like the large ice lobes that once covered a large part of North America. One idea is that these ice masses moved primarily by deforming or shearing the sediment upon which they lie. Understanding this mechanism of glacier motion is important to determine how modern ice masses such as the west Antarctic Ice and Greenland Ice Sheet will respond to a warming climate. Research conducted for his Masters degree focused on examining subglacial sediment deposited by a large ice lobe (Pekin Ice Lobe) of the Laurentide Ice Sheet to assess if the sediment had experienced a significant amount of deformation. Field and microstructural observations indicated that the ice lobe did deform its subglacial sediment but it was unclear how much deformation occurred. The results of this work were recently published in the book “Glaciotectonism”. In addition, Bill has had the opportunity to present the results of this study at the Annual Geological Society of America meeting in Denver Colorado.

For Bill's Ph.D. research, he plans to continue to study glacier beds by attempting to quantify the deformation experienced by subglacial tills in the geologic record. He plans on doing this by deforming sediment in the laboratory under a variety of conditions using a ring-shear device. Once the sediment is sheared, Bill plans on examining several of its properties including how various grains align with deformation. One technique he will employ is using a special device called a kappabridge to determine the orientation of magnetic mineral grains in the sediment. This technique is promising because it reflects a volume averaged effect of many particles in three-dimensions.

  1. What is your hometown?
    DePere, Wisconsin
  2. What are your previous degrees?
    I received my Bachelor of Science in Geology at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a Master of Science in Physical Science from Emporia State University, Kansas.
  3. What is your expected graduation date?
    I will graduate in 2015.
  4. What is your field of study and how would you describe it to a prospective graduate student?
    My field of study is glaciology and is focused on glacier bed mechanics. In particular, my research consists of understanding how glaciers move when they overlie subglacial sediment. Because it is difficult to access the bed of a modern glacier underlain by sediment, we can examine the geologic record and determine if former ice sheets and glaciers moved primarily by deforming their beds. By using a ring-shear device in the laboratory, we can shear sediment and then compare its properties to the properties of subglacial tills we map in the field. By doing so we can determine if bed deformation is a viable mechanism of glacier motion for modern glaciers.
  5. What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your graduate degree?
    After working in the minerals exploration industry for several years, I decided that I would like to teach and work in a research environment. I decided that UWM was the right path to take because of the research opportunity in glaciology.
  6. What's been your best experience so far?
    During my past graduate education experiences, I have been a teaching assistant. One advantage of working as a PA is that you can make significant progress with your research studies.
  7. In graduate School, have you gotten the opportunity to travel as part of your education?
    Yes I have spent some time traveling throughout North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado. My field area for my thesis research was focused in Devils Lake, North Dakota. While traveling, I also had the opportunity to visit the US National Ice core Laboratory (NICL) in Denver, Colorado. This summer I will also be venturing off to Iceland.
  8. What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in graduate school?
    I think that perseverance has been the secret to my success. Also my long-term interest in glaciology has kept me motivated and has allowed me to pursue future research work.
  9. Do you have any advice that you would give to a new graduate student in your program?
    Try to keep yourself well organized, ask many questions, and make sure that you communicate with your advisor on a regular basis.
  10. What has been the hardest part about being a graduate student (Is there anything that you've had to "give up" as a graduate student)?
    The hardest part for me has been the transition from working in industry to academia. My budget has changed, but it is definitely worth it.
  11. What are your plans after you graduate?
    I would like to work at a state geological survey or teach at a university.
  12. How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
    From my perspective the department is a very social group. This provides a refreshing break from studying. Also the faculty is very approachable and helpful.
  13. What has been your favorite activity while you’ve been in Graduate School in Milwaukee?
    I enjoy exercising and participating in various sports. In particular, I like to exercise at the UWM gym. Also I enjoy indoor rock climbing at Turner Hall or Adventure Rock. In the summer months, I enjoy running, biking and sea-kayaking.
  14. What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
    I enjoy the festivals and the overall cultural diversity. Also the lake front is a nice area.

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