Jeffrey Purcell; Undergraduate Student
Exploration, adventure & intense spontaneous actions are what I want most out of life. Geology is a great field of study, along with a focus on glaciers, if you want to have a career that allows you to fulfill those needs. I’ve had the great opportunity in my life to travel most of America (49 states except Alaska) and being a paid research assistant for Dr. Hooyer in Switzerland this past summer of 2011. I’m also a National Outdoor Leadership School alumni. I currently live on a conservation farm in the middle of nowhere in beautiful Wisconsin, where they are a part of the prairie grassland restoration project. My life is SICK!!!
- Hometown/High School?
Mequanego (a.k.a. Mukwonago), Potawatomi for “Place of the Bear”, Wisconsin. Near the Southern Kettle Moraine Forest Unit.
- Year in School and expected graduation date?
2012 unless the Mayans’ turn out to be right. Then at least I won’t have to pay my loans off, eh? Oh sure!
- What brought you to UWM?
The geology department. I wanted to continue my exploration of our Earth after I spent two and a half months in the wilderness in Washington, completing a semester through the National Outdoor Leadership School, learning to lead people as a guide in the mountains.
- What convinced you to major in Geosciences?
My love for Earth sciences. I spent a lot of my time hiking in the Southern Kettle Moraine Forest observing all the excellent glacially affected landscapes and knew that geology was what I enjoyed studying most. I’ve collected mineral/crystal specimens for years. I’m extremely intrigued by the massive amount of energy and time it takes to form Earth’s landscapes (i.e. mountains, volcanoes, uplift, erosion of mountains, etc.). Our lives as humans are so split second compared to amount of time it took for the Earth to be in the state it’s in presently. That blows my mind. I want to be a part of that ongoing discovery.
- What field of study would you like to go into and how would you describe it to a prospective student?
Glaciers!!!! They’re hogs! They are so massive and slow, but so destructive and an important part of the erosion of Earth’s surface. They also happen to be in the most exciting and raw places on the planet and they make the best mountains scenery. They’re so diverse and they leave behind such amazing evidence that we can see just by hiking or driving. They also helped create Wisconsin’s beautiful landscapes as well.
- What's been your best experience so far?
This past summer of 2011 was the best summer of my life. No joke! 5 weeks in the Lost River Mountain Range, one of the most active in the world, completing my geology field study, hiking/mapping/exploring for 8hrs/day, 6 days/week. Intense but the most fulfilling field camp out there. ISU knows how to do it and they treat you like adults and colleagues. Check it out! I was home for 14 days after that before I was off again for 12 days with Dr. Hooyer in Switzerland conducting research reconnaissance for the development of a better model for quarrying/abrasion mechanisms under glaciers. The Alps are like Wisconsin on steroids! Most of the time you’re looking for the green screen cause it looks so surreal. The best part is that studying geology made that happen for me. I’ll never forget those adventures of a life time. Thanks Tom!
- Have you gotten the opportunity to participate in field trips, field work, or travel as part of your education?
- Have you gotten the opportunity to participate in a student research project while at UWM?
- What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in geology?
My thirst for adventure and need for exploration. The staff of the department and my student colleagues as well. I couldn’t do it without the help of everyone in the department.
- How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
It beats the pants off any other department in the UWM system. You’re treated like an adult and they WANT to see you succeed. You’re not just some face. Dr. McHenry showed me that to be true in the beginning, along with other staff members later on. It’s a great community feel. The staff NEEDS to be paid more, I tell ya!
- Do you have any advice that you would give to a student who is new to the Geoscience major at UWM?
Find something you enjoy! Do what needs doing! Take as many diverse classes as you can in the department with different professors, because you’ll learn a lot. It’ll only make you a stronger geologist.
- What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
It’s not Chicago and it’s not a small town. It’s a nice median. Plus, you’re only a half our away from some amazing wilderness areas and lakes. It’s got it all…including good beer.
- What are your plans after you graduate?
My plan is to keep on keepin’ on. A rolling stone becomes well rounded and refined. I just made that up.