Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
New Mexico Highlands University environmental geology professor Jennifer Lindline presents at the university’s Research Day 2013 on April 5.
Las Vegas, NM — New Mexico Highlands University environmental geology Professor Jennifer Lindline was named Highlands professor of the year for 2012 — 2013.
The Highlands University Geological Society, a student group, nominated Lindline for the award, writing, “Dr. Lindline is an exceptional professor and overall extraordinary person who has students’ interests at heart every day. She is a dedicated teacher with absolute commitment to both her students and her drive to conduct research at the highest levels.”
“Dr. Lindline inspires us with her geology expertise and is very motivating,” said Danielle Cedillo, 23, a geology graduate student who is a HUGS member. “She is so thorough in the classroom and fieldwork and makes you want to learn more.
“Dr. Lindline opens up so many opportunities for her students, from fieldwork experiences to professional conferences. It’s wonderful to have her as my thesis adviser because she always gives good advice and excellent feedback,” Cedillo said.
Lindline joined the university’s faculty in 2000. She earned her doctorate in geology with an emphasis in the petrology and mineralogy from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.
At Highlands, Lindline coordinates the university’s Environmental Geology Program and is the academic adviser for environmental geology majors. She teaches courses such as introductory geology, earth materials, geochemistry and environmental law and policy.
“It means the world to me that my students nominated me for this award, and that I’m making a positive impact on their lives,” Lindline said. “What motivates me every day is the tireless effort my students put into their studies and research.
“Being part of my students’ academic growth and watching them evolve from introductory learners to senior scholars is very rewarding professionally and personally,” Lindline said.
Over the years, Lindline has published numerous research studies and has developed an international reputation as a petrologist.
Lindline is conducting groundbreaking research on the Hermit’s Peak batholith – a well-known granite landmark near Las Vegas that rises more than a kilometer from the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
“The Hermit’s Peak minerals and their patterns reveal important aspects of North America’s formation as far back as 1.7 billion years ago and later events that modified the crust. When the plates of the earth collide, rocks metamorphose, deform and melt. We see all of that in the Hermit’s Peak rock record,” Lindline said.
For her master’s thesis, Cedillo is studying the structural aspects of Hermit’s Peak, with a focus on granite formation and placement.
Lindline has been successful in securing scientific grant funding for the university that often involves students in cutting-edge geology field and laboratory research ranging from New Mexico to France and the Czech Republic.
“Fieldwork is important because it’s when the students get their hands on rocks and begin to establish the rock relationships that lead to hypotheses that are then tested in the lab. Research opportunities solidify classroom learning and promote scientific thinking at advanced levels,” Lindline said.
A few examples of grants Lindline secured with fellow geology professor Michael Petronis include a National Geographic Society grant to study the evolution of the Rio Grande Rift volcanology in Northern New Mexico; a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that funded a cutting-edge geospatial technology lab for advanced map making at Highlands; and a National Science Foundation grant that funded a paleomagnetic lab at Highlands to study magnetic properties of earth materials.
“Our mission is not just to advance geological research but to train students to be the next generation of scientists,” Lindline said.