Ernie_cropErnie Thalhammer; Masters Student

My name is Ernie Thalhamer and I am a second year masters student here at UWM. My research is in structural geology and more specifically, I am studying the deformation of 2.7 billion year old rocks which make up the core of North America. These rocks originated as a series of island arcs which came together to form the North American Craton. Through studying the deformation and geometry of a single unit, I hope to better understand the regional amalgamation and deformation.

Unlike many people I didn't grow up with dreams of studying volcanoes and earthquakes, I actually wanted to drive an ice cream truck! Fortunately, a few amazing teachers came between me and my sugary dreams and showed me how fascinating geology is.

This past October I was able to present my preliminary results at the annual GSA meeting in Minneapolis, and I have plans to present at the Institute on Lake Superior Geology annual meeting in Thunder Bay, Ontario this upcoming May.

  1. Hometown?
    Long Island, NY
  2. Previous degrees (Degree and University)?
    B.A. in Geology from Buffalo State College in Buffalo, NY
  3. Expected graduation date?
    August 2012
  4. What is your field of study and how would you describe it to a prospective graduate student?
    My field of study is Structural Geology. Structural geology is all about deformation and it can come in all shapes and sizes from microscopic to regional in scale.
  5. What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your graduate degree?
    At the end of my undergraduate program I went to my advisors office for advice on picking out a graduate program. He dropped Darlene Fissler's thesis in my lap, and told me that she was a Buffalo State alumni who went to Milwaukee for her Masters and loved the program. I contacted Dr. Dyanna Czeck and the rest is history.
  6. What's been your best experience so far?
    I think my best experience has been the times when I get to leave the classroom and see rocks in their natural habitat. I have been to Canada as well as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Minnesota and explored some local rocks here in Wisconsin. Overall it is these field excursions that I have enjoyed most.
  7. In graduate School, have you gotten the opportunity to travel as part of your education?
    Yes! My research site is located in Northwestern Ontario and I got to spend two weeks there over the summer of 2011.
  8. What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in graduate school?
    I think my success can be chalked up to 1 part being too stubborn to not succeed and 1 part Coffee. Joking aside, having great people around me including my fellow graduate students, as well as my professors, and not being afraid to ask for help has helped me tremendously.
  9. Do you have any advice that you would give to a new graduate student in your program?
    Stay organized and learn to set your own personal deadlines. Coming from someone who struggles with both of these at times, trust me it makes things a lot easier!
  10. What has been the hardest part about being a graduate student?
    While I haven't completely given anything up I have had to cut back on many of my hobbies. Also, sleep is hard to come by and I have an ongoing battle with it.
  11. What are your plans after you graduate?
    I hope to get a job in Mineral Exploration and see where it takes me. After moving from NY to Wisconsin, I wouldn't mind traveling even farther for the next leg of my journey.
  12. How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
    A mid size department with a lot of great people who legitimately want to see you succeed.
  13. What has been you r favorite activity while you've been in Graduate School in Milwaukee?
    In graduate school I came to realize that I really enjoy teaching. When I first found out that I would be teaching courses I was a little apprehensive but It has turned into one of my favorite parts of the day. I can attribute my own success to a few good teachers and I hope that through my knowledge and enthusiasm I can do the same for someone else.
  14. What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
    I really love how cultured Milwaukee is. The wide selection of places to go and see, and more specifically, the wide selection of new beers to try. Nothing beats a long day of research like a pint of 'What's made Milwaukee Famous!'

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