Welcome to Denver

10/7/2022 - Kaleigh Swift - Prep Work!

It is the Friday before GSA and the Earth & Environmental Sciences front office is quiet. Sharon and I are holding down the fort. A quiet, yet busy, Friday comes in the wake of a hectic week filled to the brim with our typical work along with the annual ESCI Career Fair, and prepping for GSA. The staff are packed and ready to go, with Jen, our Student Personnel Coordinator, having already headed off to Denver. Everyone, including the faculty, researchers, and students attending GSA are very excited to have the opportunity to go, and we are all especially looking forward to the first Alumni Reception since the pandemic started. The Alumni reception will take place Monday, October 10 from 7-10 p.m at the Hyatt Regency, Mineral Hall A, level 3. In addition, the Department will be raffling off a specialty made quilt of past ESCI t-shirts with all proceeds going to the GeoClub. We can’t wait!

Tune in for our next installment, documenting the setup process for tabling. Hope to see you all at GSA!

10/9/2022 - Jen Petrie - Sunday set-up and an unexpected rush

Beaver Meadows
Jen Petrie: Photo of Beaver Meadows - Rocky Mountain National Park

I arrived in Denver late last night after four amazing days in Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park. I need to focus on setting up our table with all the great swag/promotional items we’ve worked so hard to design over the past few months. Before I knew it, they were announcing that the exhibit hall will open in five minutes. I have never attended a Sunday night opening at the previous GSA meetings. It felt like it was the opening to the Olympics. There was a mad dash into the hall to get drinks and start walking around to various booths to see what each booth had for swag items or what information you could learn. Our booth happened to intersect with the drink lines at the top and bottom, it made the booth line look much more intimidating than it really was. 

We share our booth with University of Minnesota-Duluth. Dr. Karen Gran was there to help answer questions for UMD. Most folks started on that side of the table and worked their way down to my side of the table. At one point I had nine people waiting to talk to me-eek. Everyone was very patient and polite about waiting their turn to gather information about programs, and learn about our different faculty who did Paleontology, Hydrogeology, or Geobiology. They also wanted to know if we had an MS or Ph.D. program, or what the funding options looked like. I was able to answer most of their questions, which felt great. 


Last year at GSA, I saw that Rice University had this great idea to have individual “calling cards” so Kaleigh, worked with the faculty this year to make sure we had a “calling card” for each faculty member that we could give out, instead of a huge piece of paper. It worked out so well! I was trying to keep track of how many students I spoke with that night, I lost count throughout the night. I would like to say it was around 60-75, which was a great turn out for the first night. I now know how important it is to be there on Sunday night. Even though I was tired from telling everyone about our great faculty and grad program, I had to find some dinner before heading back to the hotel and doing it all over again for the next couple days.

10/10/2022 - Kaleigh Swift - Getting to GSA & First day tabling

Photo of Big Blue Bear - Denver Convention Center
Big Blue Bear - "I See What You Mean."

After catching a quick breakfast at my hotel’s restaurant, I headed over to GSA to meet up with Jen and grad student, Shanti Penprase, at our grad booth. Walking up to the Denver convention center, I was greeted by the big blue bear watching over the proceedings of the convention. I walked through the doors and headed to the advanced registration kiosk to get my access badge printed (and my coveted drink tickets), then started to make my way towards the campus connection booths… and promptly got lost. Two laps, ten minutes, and one very helpful information attendant later I finally found the right place. 

Advanced Registration booth GSA
Advanced Registration Kiosk

It was my first time tabling for the department and I was excited and a bit nervous. Luckily, Jen is an expert and has been representing our department at events and gatherings for years. As the Graduate Program Coordinator for the department, she also knows the answer to pretty much every question a prospective grad student could ask. As the first few guests trickled over I made sure to listen closely to Jen’s spiel, noting the answers to the most commonly asked questions. I’m glad I had paid attention because traffic picked up quickly, and soon it was normal for Jen, Shanti and I to all be helping someone at the same time. It was clear there was not going to be much down time. 

Shanti at the ESCI Grad Booth
Grad Student, Shanti Penprase, at the Earth & Environmental Sciences Campus Connection booth.

Jen eventually shooed me off to go check out the other booths. This was very important for me because I’m in charge of designing our department's promotional materials. Last year Jen made sure to grab some of the more interesting swag from other tables and brought it home to Minneapolis to help inspire new ideas on how to better promote our programs! This year I had the opportunity to shop around myself. As I made my way around, I took stock of where students were stopping, and what materials seemed to be popular. Though every table had the more standard brochures, some (including ours) were decorated with assorted doo-dads. Those tables were obviously the most popular. 

From bite sized candy, to light up yo-yos there really was an impressive array of enticements. I wanted to get my hands on some good examples for future products. I quickly got schooled in the sales pitch, and after being asked “are you interested in a graduate program” for the third time started responding “Actually, I’m just here to poach some merch ideas”. I then proceeded to ask tons of questions about the popularity of different items among students. All of the people staffing booths were very gracious and most appreciated my honesty, which also allowed them to save their sales pitches for more interested audiences. 

Kat Canter at CSD Facility Booth
Kat Cantner, Science and Outreach Coordinator of the Continental Scientific Drilling Facility, working their booth. 

I made my way back to the booth making sure to stop by the CSD Facility booth to visit with Kat, Anders, and Brian, who also made the journey out to GSA! Once back at home base we continued tabling for the rest of the afternoon, having very few breaks in the flow of traffic. The convention bars opened up at 4pm, and after grabbing a quick bevvy and helping out with a last minute rush, Jen and I were off for a brief break before our Alumni Reception later in the evening.

10/10/2022 - Kaleigh - Alumni Reception 

Alumni Reception

After a break and a brief repase at my hotel, I headed over to Hyatt Regency’s Mineral Hall A for the Alumni Reception. Sharon and Rachel had the table set up, and guests were starting to arrive. I offered to man the table, helping our guests get signed in, and of course making sure to advertise our Geo T-shirt Quilt sale! Many graciously entered our raffle, and as of now we have raised over $750 in support of the GeoClub! 

We are very grateful for those who stopped by our Alumni reception to reminisce and catch us up with what they’re doing today. Meeting members of our department, old, and new was an unforgettable experience! 

10/11/2022 - Kaleigh (attending talks)

McDaris Talk

It was my last morning in Denver, and though I, as a non-geologist, was not at GSA to share research, I wanted to support those in the department who were. I decided to head over to the convention center and catch the talks of Dr. Donna Whitney, and grad student, John McDaris. Donna Presented a talk titled “DEVELOPMENT OF THE ANATOLIAN PLATE AND TECTONIC ESCAPE SYSTEM”. Its focus was the Anatolian plate located in Turkey, and the forces involved in producing the existing plate. I then headed over to John’s talk titled “USING SPECIFIC CONDUCTANCE TELEMETRY TO MONITOR GROUNDWATER CHLORIDE IN REAL TIME” about a new, and (relatively) inexpensive collection method for water quality data, that could be used to change policy to better protect our water. Both talks were fascinating! I was shocked at the brevity of each, and how much information had to be packed into a 10-15 minute block of time. Our people put a ton of work into producing their presentations for events like GSA, and I want to acknowledge the enormity of that task. Congrats to all who presented at GSA, whether it be a talk, or a poster session!

10/12/2022 - Jen - Last Day of GSA

As I walk in today on the last day of GSA, I notice the same energy that has been here for the past three days is gone. I am bummed to not see as many people standing around staffing their booths telling students about their grad program, or talking about the newest field books, or all the folks crowding around the massive NASA booth looking at the Meteorites, and all their amazing swag. I walk to my booth to see many empty Campus Connection tables. My booth neighbors from Vanderbilt University, are in it for the long haul with me all day. Talking to the few students that have late flights or those looking for last minute swag items to head home with. At 2:00p.m. the Exhibit Hall shuts down and it is time to pack up and head home. 

NASA Booth
NASA Booth

Overall, our turn out at our booth this year was excellent. Last year in Portland, Oregon many participants stayed home due to Covid-19. The year before that our booth was online. It was hard to navigate and tell students about all the great things ESCI has to offer online. I loved being back in person being able to share all the wondering things about our department with people from all over the world at GSA this year. I hope everyone I spoke with enjoyed hearing about what our department had to offer. I can’t wait to do it all over again in Pittsburg again next year! See you then!

GSA 2023