pauls2_cropKatie Pauls; Masters Student

I am a second-year Master’s student at UW-M, with a research focus in sedimentology and paleoecology. My project focuses on the marine fauna of a shelf-edge environment during the Late Paleozoic Ice Age. This past spring, I was able to conduct my field work in Patagonia, Argentina, and was given a grant from SEPM for my research. In addition to globe-trotting as well as my usual teaching duties this past spring, I also interned in the Geology Department at the Milwaukee Public Museum. This past summer I have gone on a few trips—one in particular to Arkansas to look at the famous spillway outcrop of the Jackfork Formation—and I have also done further research for my thesis. Coming up later this fall I will be heading off to Charlotte, NC in order to present my preliminary data at the GSA Annual Meeting.

I graduated with a B.A. from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Believe it or not, I originally planned on being an English major. By the end of my freshman year, I saw the error of my ways and quickly declared myself a Geo-major. Since then, I have been on numerous trips all over the U.S. studying rocks. I have also traveled to Brazil with an REU program (Research Experience for Undergraduates), led by Dr. J. Cotter of the University of Minnesota, Morris. It was during that summer that I fell in love with South America. I have also been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to intern and work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Rock Island District in their GIS department.

  1. Hometown?
    Oak Forest, Illinois (aka Southwest side of Chicago)
  2. Previous degrees (Degree and University)?
    B.A. at Augustana College, double-major in Geology and Spanish
  3. Expected graduation date?
    Spring 2013
  4. What is your field of study and how would you describe it to a prospective graduate student?
    My thesis focuses on the paleoecology and sedimentology of the LPIA’s Pampa de Tepuel Formation, which is located in Patagonia, Argentina.
  5. What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your graduate degree?
    I have always been interested in working abroad, and fell in love with field work in Brazil. I made a decision to find a program with a project that would take me back to South America. At Augustana, it was recommended to me to look into work by John Isbell, because of his work with Gondwana and the LPIA. From there, I found out that John was also a fellow Augie-alum, and that he knew one of my professors at Augustana, Dr. Hammer.
  6. What's been your best experience so far?
    I would have to say that the best experience of grad school thus far was traveling to Patagonia in Argentina to do field work. I had the absolute time of my life there, and would go back in a heartbeat.
  7. In graduate School, have you gotten the opportunity to travel as part of your education?
    Yes, aside from traveling to Argentina, I have gone with my advisor, John, to Arkansas to study the Jackfork Formation. I was able to travel to the GSA Meeting that took place in Minneapolis last fall, and am planning on attending the meeting this fall, as well, in Charlotte, NC.
  8. pauls1_cropWhat trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in graduate school?
    I really do thoroughly enjoy the project that I’m working on right now. I’m constantly learning new things, which helps keep me on my toes and definitely makes every day interesting.
  9. Do you have any advice that you would give to a new graduate student in your program?
    I wouldn’t worry if you think you’re not an expert in one particular subject because sometimes it’s better to come at a problem with an open mind.
  10. What has been the hardest part about being a graduate student?
    I have had to give up reading “for fun”. Contrary to popular belief, reading papers for thesis research does not count. This past summer, I had a little extra free-time and caught up on some more “light” reading.
  11. What are your plans after you graduate?
    That is the million-dollar question, to which I am trying to find an answer. I have done the whole work-at-an-office-in-a-cubicle-staring-at-a-computer-screen-all-day thing, and I know that if I can help it, that I don’t want to do that for the rest of my life. With that in mind, I am hoping to find a job, perhaps in the environmental realm, as I love traveling, nationally or internationally, and enjoy working out in the field.
  12. How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
    There’s such a great vibe about it. Everyone gets along with one another; it’s like having a very large family. My advisors are super supportive, which means a lot when you suddenly realize you’re not an undergrad anymore.
  13. What has been you r favorite activity while you've been in Graduate School in Milwaukee?
    I love taking much needed breaks and getting two scoops of frozen custard at Kopps.
  14. What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
    I love love love the Lake. I grew up on Lake Michigan, and while I did enjoy the river life while attending college on the Mississippi River, nothing can compare to the Lake. I hadn’t realized how much I actually missed it until I moved here last August.

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