Environmental geology receives grant

New Mexico Highlands students Rhonda Trujillo, left, and Joel Lowry, right, explore the Irish country with professors Jennifer Lindline and Michael Petronis during a recent research trip.Environmental geology students and faculty at New Mexico Highlands University are collaborating with researchers from Ireland and France on geologic rifts thanks to a recent grant from the National Science Foundation. “To me, it’s important not just to teach the fundamentals of geology, but to have students learn how to communicate and work with people around the world,” said Highlands University environmental geology associate professor Jennifer Lindline.As part of the $20,000 grant, Lindline, along with her fellow professor Michael Petronis and Highlands’ students Rhonda Trujillo and Joel Lowry, traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to collaborate with researchers from Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and France’s Universit√© Blaise Pascal. The professors and students presented their recent research findings on magmatic processes then toured the analog modeling facilities at Trinity College Dublin and learned about their potential applications to their collaborative research projects.¬† The visit to Ireland ended with a field trip to northeastern Ireland, where the professors and students examined a formation that developed when the Eurasian tectonic plate separated from the North American plate. “Personally and professionally, it was the trip of a lifetime,” Lindline said. “And it really rocked the students’ world.”Lindline said the grant reinforced the quality of research at New Mexico Highlands. “This was particularly valuable to me because the National Science Foundation was looking at what we are doing and said this has intellectual merit and is important enough to fund,” Lindline said. “This is a pat on the back by saying this is a good idea and you need to go with it.”Lindline said the grant and research also helps build students’ confidence. “I tell students it doesn’t matter where it is, you guys can compete and you can contribute,” Lindline said. Lindline and Petronis said they feel strongly that global competence should be a fundamental part of environmental geology student training.¬† Providing students with national and international conference experience, exposing students to varied research approaches, and building partnerships with institutions abroad are just a few of the steps New Mexico Highlands’ Environmental Geology Program is taking to ensure student success in an increasingly globalized world.