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Erin Wimer; Masters Student

I am a first-year master's student at the University of Wisconsin with a focus in paleoecology. My thesis examines microbially induced sedimentary structures and their potential interactions after the end-Permian mass extinction. I will be doing my field research this May and June in the Dinwoody Formation of the western United States. Through this research, I am hoping to better understand how microbial structures could have provided an ecological niche for certain species during this recovery period.

I am greatly looking forward to presenting my research at the World Summit on P-Tr Mass Extinction & Extreme Climate Change in Wuhan, China this June, as well as presenting at GSA this fall.

  1. Hometown?
    West Bend, Wisconsin
  2. Previous degrees (Degree and University)?
    B.S. in Geosciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  3. Expected graduation date?
    Spring 2014
  4. What is your field of study and how would you describe it to a prospective graduate student?
    My focus is on the paleoecology of the Early Triassic, specifically microbial structures, in the Dinwoody formation of the western United States.
  5. What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your graduate degree?
    I originally started my undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. I spent three great years with their geology department, but soon realized I wanted to get my masters which they didn't offer. Both of my parents attended UWM and loved it, and the professors at Oshkosh encouraged me to make the transition to UWM which had a great master's program. So I transferred to complete my undergrad here and applied to the graduate program once I finished.
  6. What's been your best experience so far?
    The best part of graduate school so far is the friendships I've made with fellow students. I came into graduate school as I think all students do…a bit scared with no real idea what to expect. Going through this with a great support system who shares my interests has been invaluable.
  7. In graduate School, have you gotten the opportunity to travel as part of your education?
    I had the opportunity to travel to Indiana and Kentucky this April for a conducted field trip class this fall, but I have lots more travel plans coming up in the next year! I will be conducting my field research for four weeks in May and June out in the western US. Shortly after that I plan to travel to Wuhan, China to present at the World Summit on P-Tr Mass Extinction & Extreme Climate Change conference. Finally, in the fall I plan to present at the GSA annual conference in Colorado.
  8. wimer2_cropWhat trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in graduate school?
    Having a strong work ethic is the main trait that has helped me succeed. I think every grad student has a great support team behind them to keep them on track, but it is really the effort you put in that makes the difference between someone who is successful and someone who isn’t. Another important trait is modesty. It sounds silly, but you will realize just how much you don't know when you start grad school. Being able to ask for help can make all the difference in the world.
  9. Do you have any advice that you would give to a new graduate student in your program?
    You need to be proactive and know what resources are at your disposal. The geosciences department is full of professors and staff that not only have valuable resources, but are willing to share them with you. It is these professors and staff members that are going to facilitate your success, so seek them out.
  10. What has been the hardest part about being a graduate student?
    Lack of free time is the hardest part about being a grad student. I've definitely had to explain how busy I am to neglected family and friends more than once.
  11. What are your plans after you graduate?
    I think every grad student gets asked this at least once a week. And like many of my fellow students, I'm not entirely sure at this point. I am probably going on for my PhD, as I really love the academic environment. If not, I might try finding a job in the environmental field where I could do research and travel.
  12. How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
    Because it is a smaller department, we are a fairly tight knit group. You know basically every other student and faculty member which makes collaboration really easy. While competition will always exist to some extent, the students of this department are very supportive of one another.
  13. What has been your favorite activity while you've been in Graduate School in Milwaukee?
    I thoroughly enjoy going for breaks with my fellow grad students Jenna and Nick. It's nice to unwind with someone who is going through the same experiences you are and has a clue what you are talking about.
  14. What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
    What I love most about Milwaukee is that is has big city amenities and options in a fairly small package.

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