BA, Earth and Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University, 2004
MS, Geology, Michigan Tech, 2008
Current position: Geologist, GeoGlobal Energy
While at Wesleyan, Colvin participated in a field-mapping project in Argentina, which mixed geology, petrology, limnology, and volcanic lake geochemistry. Her undergraduate thesis focused on rock chemistry of million-year old pyroclastic flow deposits from the Caviahue-Copahue volcanic complex. This project introduced her to volcanoes for the first time, and kick-started her interest in volcanology. She went on to study active volcanoes with Professor Bill Rose at Michigan Tech. Her graduate research focused on remote sensing of active volcanoes, ASTER image interpretation, crater lake geochemistry, volcanic hazards and international collaboration between Michigan Tech and the national volcano monitoring institution in El Salvador.
“Completing a graduate degree is a bit like running a marathon,” says Colvin. “You have to stay focused and continually work towards your goal. The most challenging aspect for me was staying on track and not trying to take on more than I could realistically accomplish in the time frame. Learning to plan, budget and manage my own projects served me well later on.”
The best part of the experience, according to Colvin, was the synergy and multi-disciplinary collaboration among GMES students, post-docs and professors applying remote sensing techniques to volcanology and ground water resources. “The academic environment in the grad school while I was at Tech was very exciting. The students had an interesting mix of life experiences and intellectual curiosity. Many had lived or traveled in Latin America. The geology dept. regularly hosted scientists from all over the world to discuss their research. The department organized cooperative field research programs and workshops in Latin American countries.”
After graduating Colvin took a job as a geologist in a private geothermal energy company called GeoGlobal Energy. She is currently based in their Santiago office in Chile, and participates in geology, geochemistry and geophysical exploration campaigns as well as geothermal drilling at Chilean geothermal fields. “Chile does not yet have any operating geothermal power plants and it is very exciting to be working at the forefront of the industry in this country,” she says.
Which experiences at Tech helped with her current success? “Participating in geology fieldwork and remote sensing workshops in El Salvador and Costa Rica increased my confidence and ability to plan and execute projects in Latin America. These experiences showed me the importance of transcending cultural difference in order to achieve a common goal or realize a shared vision. I am forever grateful to Professors Bill Rose and John Gierke for providing international opportunities for their students and realizing their value in shaping their students’ lives.”
Colvin offers this advice to a student trying to decide whether or not to study geology, geological engineering, or geophysics: “I am the type of volcanologist whose internal fire is lit when I am talking, thinking, dreaming about geology. It is important to feel passionate for your work whatever it may be. Follow your gut if you feel that you are a geologist at heart.”