Ian Renfrew; Undergraduate Student
Knock knock, who’s there, the featured student of the month. My name is Ian Renfrew, I was born in Malibu California. I have two parents and one sister, her name being Krista Brynne Renfrew (she wanted a shout out). I have always been somebody who loves the outdoors, so geology was a natural fit. Since I became a geo major, I have had the great pleasure of meeting and getting to know many good people and great professors. Geology fascinates me, the earth acts like a living being; it is always changing, constantly evolving and redefining itself. Studying it has become a great passion of mine, I love getting my hands dirty, being in the field, and examining the world around me. UWM has given me the chance to follow this dream, of studying the Earth. So next time you are walking around and see a rock, take a minute to really look at it, it has a story that will probably amaze you.
- Hometown/High School?
I was born in Malibu, Ca, but moved too Brookfield Wisconsin when I was about 7. Then I attended Brookfield Central High School.
- Year in School and expected graduation date?
I have to finish up my foreign language credits and a few GER requirements and will graduate this summer.
- What brought you to UWM?
Coming out of high school, I really did not have a plan for what I wanted to do with my life. However growing up in Brookfield, there was not even a question, you go to college. A lot of my friends were attending UWM, as well as my sister, so it seemed like a good fit for me.
- What convinced you to major in Geosciences?
For a couple of years I was just sort of coasting through school, taking all the normal freshman and sophomore classes like psych 101, philosophy 101, basically anything _____ 101. I have a minor in Art History, but it was not what I wanted to do with my life. After a while I realized that I needed to find my real passion, something that would put a spark underneath me. I was at home watching tv, and looked under my DVR (recorded shows), and noticed that about half of them were on the subject of geology. Declared my major the next week and have not looked back since.
- What field of study would you like to go into and how would you describe it to a prospective student?
I have always been very interested in the actual mechanics of how the Earth works, above and below the crust. Things ranging from structural geology to geo-electrical methods can give you a glimpse at how these processes have worked in the past, and how they might act in the future.
- What's been your best experience so far?
It is hard to take an entire college career and really narrow it down to one great experience, however just recently I did have a great opportunity. Last semester (fall 2010), I was able to help a very nice an intelligent special needs student that was in Geo 100. He was visually impaired, so many of the labs were difficult for him to perform. The department came up with a solution, to have one student who has taken a lot of geo classes attend his labs with him to help him through the labs. I became that student. This was a new experience for not only me and the student, but the department as well. After trial and error, the student and I were able to, along with help from Rob Graziano and others, figure out certain methods both inside and outside of class to help him grasp all of the concepts. I am proud to say, that not only was this experience rewarding for me, but the student also ended up doing very well in the class.
- Have you gotten the opportunity to participate in field trips, field work, or travel as part of your education?
This is one of the real great parts about studying geology. Seeing as how I love being outside, I have always known that I could not be a cubical, nine to five office job kind of person. A lot of the higher level classes one takes in geology have field trips, that really allow you to get outdoors and see the features discussed in class first hand. I was also able to go to Turkey this last summer for a 6 week field camp that was really one of the greatest experiences I have had in school.
- Have you gotten the opportunity to participate in a student research project while at UWM?
Currently I am working with our structural geology professor, Dyanna Czeck, on a program that is called Petrog. This computer program has been used frequently in the past by oil and natural gas companies to study drill cores. We are trying to create a system where we can use this program to study micro-structures in thin sections. Specifically, I am studying and comprising a new library on deformed granites from Nova Scotia for the Petrog program.
- What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in geology?
To really do well in geology, you have to have a passion for the idea of puzzle solving, which is something I enjoy. The earth and its processes are basically one giant puzzle, and it is up to us to figure out its inner workings. So through a process of compiling and interpreting data, we find the answers to the puzzles and questions the Earth poses.
- How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
One of the great things about the Department of Geosciences at UWM is really how tight nit of a community it is. The size of the department is definitely growing, but you really get to know your professors as well as your fellow students. Most of, if not all of the upper level classes one takes in this department, have small class sizes, and a lot of face to face time with your professors. I really feel that this is a great thing, because young students can start to feel lost in the large 100 plus student lectures they take at the beginning of their academic careers.
- Do you have any advice that you would give to a student who is new to the Geoscience major at UWM?
The best advice I can give a young student in the department is to never be afraid to ask questions. The professors in the department are always willing to not only answer the questions you may have, but will go out of their way to help you fully understand the topics at hand.
- What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
Milwaukee is a great city. After growing up in, and visiting Los Angeles, it gives me a special appreciation for the city I live in. It is just the right size, large enough that we have a baseball team, but not overcrowded and super expensive like a New York or Los Angeles. There is always something to do in the city. We also have many festivals, we are even called the city of festivals, and have many hidden gems like the Milwaukee Art Museum.
- What are your plans after you graduate?
I have never been on to look too far into the future, but I feel that the academic route is for me. I really do enjoy studying and amassing more and more knowledge. Getting my masters is my next goal, maybe even someday get my Ph D, then who knows, maybe I will come back and teach at UWM.