Micah Holzbauer; Masters Student
is originally from Minneapolis, MN. He received his Bachelor of Science degree (Geology/Geophysics) from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Micah’s thesis work was done under the supervision of Dr. Tim Grundl. His work focused on identifying man-made constituents in the rivers and shallow groundwater of southeast Wisconsin. A major thrust of the work was to discriminate effects caused by waste water treatment plant effluent from effects caused by other anthropogenic sources. It is important to understand this facet of urban hydrology in order to assess the effects of recycling treated wastewater on the environment. He now knows more about boron isotopes, halogen ratios and emerging contaminants than he ever thought possible. Micah recently defended his thesis and has returned to Minnesota with a job in hand in the environmental consulting industry.
- What is your field of study and how would you describe it to a prospective graduate student?
My field of study is chemical hydrogeology. For my research, I study chemical components in groundwater, river water, and wastewater treatment plant effluent to detect anthropogenic (human-caused) contamination in the environment and identify sources. I measured many things but focused on concentrations of boron, lithium, bromide, chloride, and select organic compounds (pharmaceuticals and personal care products).
- What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your graduate degree?
I originally applied to UWM because a trusted professor from my undergrad recommended the program. I chose UWM over my other options for a few reasons. The faculty and graduate students I met on my campus visit were influential. The whole department came off as genuinely friendly and easygoing. Also, this program was able to offer me the best financial support. Lastly, the city of Milwaukee clinched it for me. For specifics, see the final question.
- What's been your best experience so far?
I've had many great experiences while at UWM, but I'd have to say completing my thesis project was the best. It was immensely gratifying to see my years of effort finally come to fruition.
- In graduate School, have you gotten the opportunity to travel as part of your education?
From classes and conferences, I covered most of Wisconsin. My field area was within 30 miles of Milwaukee so I didn't really travel specifically for my research. I did, however, get to spend a week in Utah assisting a fellow graduate student with her research on an island in the Great Salt Lake.
- What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in graduate school?
I think perseverance has been very important. Despite obstacles and temporary discouragement, being able to push myself to put in the extra effort and long hours when necessary has been extremely important to my graduate career. With that said, I have certainly drifted from time to time in graduate school; everyone needs to find time to relax. It's important to find a healthy balance.
- Do you have any advice that you would give to a new graduate student in your program?
Good communication with your advisor is essential. Keeping in touch will keep you accountable and make sure you are both on the same page. It may seem small, but it can make a huge difference. Also, get to know your fellow graduate students. They can make your time at UWM much more rewarding and enjoyable.
- 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)?
Since I started graduate school directly after finishing my Bachelor's degree, I was already in "school mode" so my transition was rather simple. One hard part for me was the longer hours and giving up weekends and holidays during crucial periods in my research.
- What are your plans after you graduate?
I will be working at an environmental consulting firm in Minneapolis, MN. My job will include a combination of hydrogeological and geophysical applications.
- How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
It is a very social and welcoming group of people. Every faculty and staff member is very approachable and willing to help. I really enjoyed getting to know the whole department.
- What has been your favorite activity while you’ve been in Graduate School in Milwaukee?
It's a nondescript answer but... spending time with fellow grad students. I say this because I can't really narrow down once specific thing. I've made some great friends within the geology department and have shared many activities including road biking, disc golfing, dining out, kite flying, ice skating, city exploring, and many more.
- What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
I really like the abundance of parks, trails, festivals, and cultural diversity. It's a large enough city to have just about anything you want yet it remains very accessible. Also, being right next to Lake Michigan makes for a great view.