On September 18 current NOVA student Robin Rohrback-Schiavone and former student Victoria Martin presented the first Science Seminar of the fall semester with an engaging presentation titled, “Research That Rocks!” The event took place in the Forum of the Ernst Community Cultural Center on the Annandale Campus.
Both said that they found their calling in the geosciences after taking geology classes at NOVA. Martin was a history major who said that she took geology because she did not like biology, but soon realized that her search for what she wanted to do in life had come to an end. “I found my passion,” she said. While at NOVA, Martin worked as a learning assistant for oceanography, physical geology and historical geology.
Martin recently transferred to Cleveland State University to earn a degree in environmental science and is a lab instructor for physical geology there.
Rohrback-Schiavone was a self-described “roadie” who spent 20 years as a stagehand before coming to NOVA, where she took Geology 105 in her first semester. “Oh, this is what I want to do now,” she said after only three weeks of classes.
Rohrback-Schiavone has taken every geology class NOVA offers and works as a learning assistant for Geology Assistant Professor Callan Bentley, recipient of the 2012 Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and Assistant Professor Shelley Jaye, assisting mineralogy labs and overseeing honors mineralogy students.
Chemistry Associate Professor Reva Savkar said, “This is the essence of what makes ‘the teaching-learning process’ such a privilege and an honor: students excited and passionate about learning, involved and engaged in research and sharing and presenting to our NOVA academic community.”
Savkar is also the Science Seminar chair and recipient of the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. “It does not get any better than this,” she added.
Martin and Rohrback-Schiavone described the unique resources available at NOVA that allow undergraduate research in a variety of geoscientific projects, such as the Chesapeake Bay Impact Structure (CBIS) project where petrographic analysis is being performed on a core sample of bedrock beneath the 35-million-year-old impact crater in the Chesapeake Bay and the Mid-Atlantic Geo-Image Collection (MAGIC) project to establish a database of geologic imagery with gigapixel-resolution that can be used by NOVA students and faculty members, as well as outside professionals and teachers.
“Not every college has a scanning electron microscope like NOVA,” said Martin, who has also worked with the U.S. Geological Survey on a research project using scanning electron microscopy to identify new morphotypes of calcareous nanofossils that shed light on climatic shifts from 52 million years ago.
Martin presented a paper on her work earlier this year at the annual International Nannofossil Association Conference in the Philippines. Rohrback-Schiavone has also presented her work on MAGIC and the CBIS core at a U.S. Geological Survey Conference and at regional and national meetings of the Geological Society of America.
You can watch their presentation on the NOVA-TV Center Video On Demand server online.