Travis King; Masters Student
Being a geologist is a lot like being in the movie Twister and chasing tornados. It’s awesome! Okay well maybe not just like Twister but it’s still awesome nonetheless. Geology is so much more than just rocks and minerals and that’s why I love it. I couldn’t be hampered down doing just one thing, one science. I wanted to learn about history, physics, chemistry, biology, archeology, seismology, meteorology, cartography, oceanography, paleontology, astronomy and advanced mathematics, etc and travel and see the world and the best part is that geology is all of that. The world is my laboratory. I’m currently studying physical and chemical hydrogeology here at UWM in hopes of one day receiving my Master’s Degree in Hydrogeology. I plan to present my research at the 2011 Wisconsin American Water Resources Association meeting and the 2011 UWM Geosciences Student Research Symposium.
It all depends on who’s asking or what form I’m filling out but… Antioch, Illinois and Trevor, Wisconsin [pronounced “tree-ver” and you can fight it but you’ll lose].
- Previous degrees (Degree and University)?
I received my Associate in Art and my Associate in Science Degrees from the College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL and then proceeded to get my Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.
- Expected graduation date?
May 22nd, 2011
- What is your field of study and how would you describe it to a prospective graduate student?
My field of study is in physical and chemical hydrogeology. I study the chemistry and movement of shallow groundwater and river water in southeastern Wisconsin. I measure many things including major ion chemistry [such as chloride, calcium, and magnesium], pH, TDS, dissolved oxygen, and a select few minor ions that are found in groundwater [such as boron and lithium]. I then apply that data to computer programs like PHREEQC and AQUACHEM to observe trends and relationships in the chemistry.
- What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your graduate degree?
I’ve always loved Milwaukee and everything it has to offer and I was thinking about moving here after I graduated from Illinois State University. During the fall semester of my senior year my undergraduate advisor informed me of graduate research opportunities available at UWM and recommended that I apply. Considering Milwaukee was already where I wanted to be, I began the application process immediately. But now that its winter I’m wondering why I didn’t choose Florida. Come on!
- What's been your best experience so far?
The Field Trips! As I’m sure any geologist would agree the best part of any geology related course are the field trips. They’re really fun, you get to see unique geology out in the field, they’re educational, and the friendships made on these trips are permanent. And occasionally there’s a campfire. You can’t beat that! Also getting to do research at various labs and working with professionals across southeast Wisconsin has been a great experience and I always look forward to these field days.
But the best experience is going to be the day I finish my thesis and all the long nights and hard work finally come to fruition.
- In graduate School, have you gotten the opportunity to travel as part of your education?
Yes! I’ve gotten to visit all sorts of labs to conduct research in, water infrastructure sites throughout Milwaukee, beaches up and down the coast of Lake Michigan, and to all sorts of unique locales throughout Wisconsin. As part of my Field Methods in Hydrogeology course I got to spend a weekend up north this past fall with my classmates at the Border Lakes State Natural Area. And before that I spent two weeks camping in a bivy sack in Iceland while studying glaciers and volcanoes.
- What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in graduate school?
Not having any commitments besides grad school has allowed me to be able to put in the extra hours whenever necessary and occasionally working through the weekend helps out too. “Who needs a life? Not this guy!” Also being very observant of people’s questions about upcoming assignments/projects and such during class has spared me the same speed bumps when I work on those same assignments outside of class or over the weekend. I’d also like to take this time to ask the whereabouts of the UWM sandwich cart salesperson? Srsly! Come by the Geology computer lab sometime I am hungry!
- Do you have any advice that you would give to a new graduate student in your program?
The thing that has helped me through grad school the most is my fellow grad students. Get to know your fellow grad students; especially the ones within your program and you’ll be able to help each other out. Convince an established grad student to let you help assist them with their project [which shouldn’t be too hard] and they’ll probably teach you a thing or two along the way that’ll save you hours down the road.
- 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 about being a graduate student is utilizing every minute of every day to properly balance that three headed beast known as research, coursework, and TA responsibilities. If you turn your back on any of those for one second it will come back to bite you. And thus I have spent many hours on a Friday or Saturday night working diligently on various projects trying to get the leash back on the wild beast. And it’s actually kind of surprising to find you won’t be the only one in the lab on a Saturday night after midnight.
- What are your plans after you graduate?
I would like to work for an environmental consulting firm somewhere within the combined Chicago-Milwaukee cone of depression or even somewhere in the southwestern United States.
- How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
The geology department here has everything you can ask for: accredited professors in nearly every field of geology that you can think of, a great office staff, top notch research facilities and laboratories, and a wide range of courses that have real depth and are both challenging and interesting. UWM has everything one would need to succeed as a Graduate Student.
- What has been your favorite activity while you’ve been in Graduate School in Milwaukee?
Between the late nights of calibrating ground water models and solving Darcy’s Law I would definitely say that my favorite activities include riding my bike to and fro, playing volleyball at Bradford Beach, and exploring the sometimes mysterious and unpredictable wilderness that is along the Milwaukee River. Unfortunately summer doesn’t last all year round in Milwaukee but luckily the music does. It always seems like one of my favorite bands is playing a show right around the corner and if not, well its 80’s night somewhere. Oh wait, you mean as a graduate student? Well that would definitely have to be being a TA for the various classes I have taught. The students at UWM have been great [even if they think my name is Nate] and I will definitely miss that aspect of Grad School once I graduate.
- What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
For being a major city, Milwaukee is surprisingly scenic. I would have to say I really enjoy all the parks, trails, and beaches that are found in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee River has really fun trails to explore and the bluffs along Lake Michigan are pretty sweet. I have a nice little scenic route through the city that I like to use whenever I’m introducing somebody to the city. I could teach you, but I’d have to charge. I’ve also been coming to Milwaukee for years to catch some of my favorite bands at one of the many music venues Milwaukee has to offer. Every week there is some show I HAVE to see anywhere from some kid’s basement to the Cactus Club or the Miramar and all the way up to the Rave and Pabst Theaters. There is always a good variety of music coming to Milwaukee and for that I am glad.