BS, Geological Engineering, 2007
Current position: PhD Candidate, University of California, Berkeley
“The GMES department is unquestionably one of the most important influences on where I am now,” says Porritt. As department chair, Wayne Pennington suggested I purse an internship, which blossomed into my PhD research. As Enterprise and Undergraduate advisor, John Gierke helped me learn about research, team building, and team leading.”
The coursework gave Porritt a strong science background. “Some of the specialized classes in my last two years were very helpful at making me familiar with the specific questions I am now addressing. The professional meetings, such as SEG, which I attended while at Tech, were also useful to make contacts and see what the future could hold career-wise.”
To Porritt, the hard parts were the common challenges: “Learning personal independence, struggling with tough classes, and finding a part-time job (or five. But I think the biggest challenge for me were the Enterprise/Senior Design projects. These projects really forced me to grow both in terms of research ability and in terms of teamwork. That being said, I think these challenges were invaluable to my personal growth.”
The most enjoyable time he spent at Tech was time spent with friends. “Largely they were friends I met at the residence halls, but I quickly made friends in the GMES department and the activities we planned through the department (such as rock hunts, broomball, and chili cook-offs) were a lot of fun.”
Porrritt is currently a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley studying seismology. “I am working on a project to understand the tectonic structure of the United States by using earthquakes to image the earth as a doctor uses x-rays to study the internal structure of patients.” He recently received an NSF EAR postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California in June 2013. He will be working on a seismic imaging team investigating the formation of the North American Craton through a seismic array circling Hudson's Bay.
His advice to a student considering the geosciences? “Stop considering and just do it; its interesting, exciting, has real-world applications, and you will never feel like you’ve ‘worked’ a day in your life as its more like getting paid to play.”