Nov. 8, 2011 -- Students and faculty from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) were well represented at the Geological Society of America’s (GSA) annual conference held at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Oct. 9-12. With an attendance of 6,000, this is the largest annual gathering for geologists and marked the first return of the conference to this region since 1972.
William S. Cordua, professor of geology at UWRF, acted as a member of the organizing committee and had three papers accepted for presentation at the GSA conference. In addition to Cordua; Holly Dolliver, assistant professor of geology and soil science; Kerry Keen, professor of environmental science and geology; and Mike Middleton, professor of geology, also gave presentations and/or authored other papers.
Cordua explained that the conference was “eye-opening [for students], due to all the science presented, the graduate schools that attended, the networking opportunities, and the various distinguished public lectures.”
Approximately 24 UWRF geology majors participated in the conference. Senior Alison McElwain of Hudson was lead author on a research paper and presented her work to distinguished peers and professionals in the field. Her research involved the analysis of the Flambeau copper mine in Rusk County.
Cordua expressed the importance of significant gatherings such as this for students. “It helps to inspire their own research efforts, being both encouraged and intimidated by what other grad students are doing,” he said with a warm chuckle. “There was a lot of enthusiasm and interest at the conference, and it was contagious to the students.”
The geological endeavors of the UWRF faculty and students extended beyond the conference venue, with a regional field trip co-led by Cordua. The daylong trip took participants to several sites of geological interest, including Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, an abandoned, century-old iron mine, and the Rock Elm asteroid impact site.
Geology has and always will be a relevant and essential area of study and research. “As long as people need resources, geologists will be providing the key for them, says Cordua. “It is the geologist’s issue to get information to society.”