Outside the Classroom
MISCELLANEOUS FIELD TRIPS
Field experience is so important to geology that we incorporate field trips into many of our courses. But we urge that you take advantage of other opportunities to get in the field. Sometimes you can go along on trips in courses other than those in which you are enrolled (or intend to enroll). Or someone may informally organize a departmentally sponsored trip completely separate from any course. Watch bulletin boards.
Also watch for announcements of trips sponsored by regional or special-interest organizations. Every fall, a wide selection of field trips are offered by the New York State Geological Association (NYSGA) and the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference (NEIGC). Similar trips are run each spring by the Field Conference of Pennsylvania Geologists. Undergraduates are very welcome on all of these, and the cost is minimal. Watch bulletin boards. Often, a van will be going from Syracuse.
Participation in meetings of professional organizations may seem like something you are not ready for, but that is not necessarily true! Such meetings consist of all-day "technical" sessions, each dedicated to a particular theme or subject area, in which a series of 20-minute presentations are given by individuals who have research results to report. One can pick and choose the particular "papers" and sessions one attends. If you attend such meetings, you will be astonished by how much you understand, you will learn a lot , and you will gain perspective on your field that is obtainable in no other way.
Among the best are the annual (spring) meetings of the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America (NEGSA). The host city changes from year to year. Usually it is within reasonable driving distance, and almost always there will be a van of SU people, some of them attending as presenters.
Even this early in your career, you might want to consider joining a professional organization - the Geological Society of America (GSA), Society of Sedimentary Geology (SEPM), American Geophysical Union (AGU), or some other. Journals, newsletters, and meeting-registration discounts come with membership, and most such professional organizations offer reasonably priced student memberships.
INFORMAL FIELD/LAB EXPERIENCE
Often, individual professors may have projects that can involve undergraduates in field or laboratory work, but without the formal structure that would be required if you were to register for EAR 490. Although such participation would not involve academic credit and would not appear on your official transcript, it can provide enjoyable opportunities for you to get involved in research activities in your chosen field. Such projects are usually discovered through the departmental grapevine, or by directly approaching a professor whose interests you share.
Too many undergraduates think of their professional training as limited to their formal academic program, and overlook the enormous opportunities available to them in the form of special presentations and other activities. Almost every week, the Department hosts a visiting scientist as part of our Earth Science Seminar Series. The main talk is usually given in Room 113 at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, followed by light refreshments in 333 Suite, but often the speaker will give other presentations, as well. Some of these talks may be specialized, and presume background you do not yet have. Even so, attending can often provide insights into the kinds of research and developments that are at the cutting edge of your major field. And some talks will be readily accessible and interesting even to a general audience.
Apart from their technical content, special events such as the Seminar Series provide you with opportunities to meet prominent people whose important contributions will become well known to you later in your career. Indeed, you may well find yourself shaking hands with someone who will be part of next week's evening news, or featured on the cover of Time .