In an effort to promote interest in geology and connect students to resources within the world of earth sciences, students in the Earth and Environmental Sciences (E&ES) Department are creating a new organization: The Wesleyan University Geological Society (WUGS). WUGS will center around providing students with field trip opportunities, grant money for research projects, and connections to those working in the field of geology, both in Connecticut and beyond.
Prior to WUGS, no geological society has existed on campus in recent memory. WUGS will have multiple components, both Wesleyan-centric and oriented to the greater geological community. Wesleyan-centered activities will include hosting events such as selling rock candy and a Rock ID Competition, in which students compete to identify the most rocks. WUGS will also focus on the wider Connecticut area, with one of the club’s goals being to publish literature about the Connecticut Garnet Trail, a common locality for E&ES students.
On an even wider scale, students who participate in WUGS must be a part of at least one other geological organization, be it the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Geological Society of America (GSA), the Geological Society of Connecticut (GSC), or the National Honor Society for the Earth Sciences: Sigma Gamma Epsilon (SGE).
A chapter of SGE is opening up on campus in conjunction with WUGS. The offices of President and Vice President of WUGS will be shared with those of SGE, while other positions, such as secretary and treasurer, will differ across each organization. SGE encourages more philanthropic actives and focuses on academics and honors, which differs from the goals of WUGS, which will be broader in nature.
Master’s student Melissa Luna came up with the idea of starting WUGS on campus. Her motivation, she explained, stemmed from her own experiences in a geology club and as the president of her undergraduate school’s chapter of SGE.
“When I was an undergraduate, I kept to myself,” Luna explained in an email to The Argus. “I would leave immediately after class, and would just go home and do my own thing. However, one of my professors reached out to me and mentioned that I should attend a geology club meeting. At that point, I only knew geology from what was presented to me in classes, and to be honest, that was not enough to convince me to be interested in the subject. So, I attended the meeting, and since then, I had become heavily involved in the geology club.”
Luna explained that via the opportunities provided by this club, including field trips to mines and to natural history museums, her love of geology developed. Likewise, her involvement in this club was integral to her arrival at Wesleyan.
“These extra opportunities are [what] led me to where I am today,” she said. “If I hadn’t known about these events organized by our geology club, I wouldn’t have met Suzanne O’Connell (my advisor), and I probably would not have met my future employers. With that being said, I really just wanted to extend and create opportunities for the students in the E&ES department, especially with graduation quickly approaching.”
Luna worked with Jackie Buskop ’19, an E&ES major, to create both WUGS and begin the chapter of SGE on campus. Buskop explained their reasoning behind creating both organizations.
“[We decided to] make an over-arching organization that can encompass different professional societies as well as Sigma Gamma Epsilon,” she explained in an interview with The Argus. “Because SGE has some requirements that maybe not everyone could fulfill, or want to, so we wanted to be more inclusive to people who wanted to be associated with geology and the earth sciences, but for people who didn’t necessarily fulfill those same requirements.”
Buskop hopes the club will be a place for interesting activities and outreach, rather than focused on academics.
“I think just having collaboration with everyone who wants to be involved will be fun, because it’s not something you have to do, it’s something you want to do,” she said. “We’re not forcing anyone to be there, so you know, it should be fun! We get to talk about what we like best, let it be volcanoes or earthquakes or rocks.”
Likewise, she noted that membership in WUGS will not be limited to those majoring in E&ES, while SGE will be open to anyone who has met the GPA requirement and has taken at least 2.5 credits in the E&ES department.
Although the club has various activities planned for the upcoming semester, Luna explained that she’s most excited about the prospect of “blazing” the Connecticut Garnet Trail.
“Right now, I am excited about the enthusiasm from both the students and the faculty members about starting this organization,” Luna noted. “However, I am also excited about a particular project that will be taking place once the weather starts to cooperate. In the spring, we are planning to blaze the garnet trail as a collaboration with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Basically, we are marking localities of where garnets (CT’s state mineral) can be found, and creating the paths to find them.”
Buskop, too, is excited about the club’s prospects.
“It’s our little baby, I want to see what becomes of it,” she said. “I was so excited to see people were interested, because I think we really needed an outlet for creativity in the sciences, something like that didn’t really exist before as much, but I think being able to combine going outside, and philanthropic work, and fundraising, and I think learning how to accomplish those activities is a rewarding skill in itself.”
Contact either Jackie Buskop or Melissa Luna, at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively, for more information regarding membership to either WUGS and SGE, or other geological organizations.