Nathan Magnusson; Masters Student

As far back as I can remember I’ve always wanted to know how things work and why. This certainly has something to do with my father being an engineer and my mother working in the medical field. Growing up in that environment definitely fostered my interest in science but it wasn’t until I was forced into taking a geology course (that’s a longer story than I have time for here) that I realized how much I truly liked geosciences. It has been a long, convoluted road to finally get where I am now but I believe I have found what I want to do with my life and am happy with it. I am currently working on my Master’s Degree studying physical and chemical hydrogeology hoping to finish in May (2011). My presentation at the 2011 Wisconsin regional AWRA conference won me ‘Best graduate presenter’. I also presented at the 2011 Geosciences Student Research Symposium and will be presenting at the 2011 WGWA conference.

  1. Hometown?
    I would call my hometown Racine, WI. But, I spent my early years in Kenosha then moved to Racine, lived in DePere during my undergrad, and now live in Cudahy (south side of Milwaukee County) where I have lived since 2003.
  2. nathan2_cropPrevious degrees (Degree and University)?
    I received my BS from St. Norbert College (DePere, WI) with a major in biology and a minor in geology.
  3. Expected graduation date?
    If all goes well and I get all of my data back soon enough I expect to graduate in May of this year (2011).
  4. What is your field of study and how would you describe it to a prospective graduate student?
    My field of study is Hydrogeology with a thesis emphasis on Chemical Hydrogeology. I think the easiest way to describe what I do is study primarily groundwater and to some extent surface water! More specifically, I study the chemistry and physics of both groundwater and surface water as well as their interactions.
  5. What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your graduate degree?
    I was already here! OK, I’ll explain. I had already been attending UWM as a special status student (completely unrelated to geosciences) and decided to make a change. Since my wife and myself both like living in the area and my wife loves her job it just made sense to look into UWM so we could stay here. This is also where I have to acknowledge Doug Cherkauer. When I came to the department to see what I would need to do to get into the department and to see if this is really where I wanted to be Doug is whom I met with. He encouraged me to apply even though the admissions deadline had passed…and here I am.
  6. What's been your best experience so far?
    It probably sounds a little cliché, but everything. The department as a whole is filled with people who want to learn and teach which makes for a great environment to ‘study’ in.
  7. In graduate School, have you gotten the opportunity to travel as part of your education?
    Yes! As with any geosciences program (a good one anyway) there are always field trips of which I’ve been on at least four. I have also traveled to parts of eastern Wisconsin I had never been to for my thesis work. Beyond that I have also attended a couple of conferences.
  8. What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in graduate school?
    To quote Tim (my advisor) “your suspicion is a good thing.” What he meant by this is that I don’t take things at face value. I’m not happy with just knowing what the answer is; I want to know why the answer is.
  9. Do you have any advice that you would give to a new graduate student in your program?
    Get into your work! Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.
  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)?
    I would have to say one of the hardest things about being a grad student has been giving up time doing things that I like outside of school and spending less time with my wife.
  11. What are your plans after you graduate?
    Getting a good job! The biggest reason I came back to school to get my Master’s Degree was to get into a career that I truly enjoyed being in and that could support my family and myself.
  12. How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
    To get to the point, easy going. That is probably a statement that holds true for most geosciences departments but it definitely describes this one. So, outside of the obvious, the department is professional, challenging, welcoming and just a good place to be.
  13. What has been your favorite activity while you’ve been in Graduate School in Milwaukee?
    My favorite activity so far is probably the ‘Field Methods’ trip to the North Woods of Wisconsin. This was a four day trip where I had the opportunity to do field work and spend a couple of days getting to know my class mates and professors in a way you just don’t experience in a class room.
  14. What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
    Having lived here for a number of years now I have had the chance to experience more of Milwaukee than most of the grad students here. With that said I would have to say that one of the best things about Milwaukee is that there is always something to do. This is a city that is big enough to display great diversity in culture, dining and activities but at the same time feels small enough to not be overwhelming. Another thing that I like about Milwaukee is that you can get out of the city very quickly and get to some great state parks and trails.

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