Scientist of the Week

Melody Moberg

“I kind of hate rocks” is not a declaration you would ordinarily expect to hear from a geology major. However, junior Claire Gannon is not an ordinary individual.
Gannon is a geology and government double major, an RLA in Colman, a Trivia Master and a self-proclaimed Radiohead enthusiast. “I love music. I listen though, not play, unless you count pressing ‘play’ on an iPod.”
Recently, Gannon performed in Emily Meranda’s senior project, the comedic theatrical production “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” Gannon was seen condensing all 16 of Shakespeare’s comedies into one with sophomore Chad Bay and was seen carousing about stage with bloody stumps for hands.
This witty, multitalented geologist is also an Irish citizen, although you may be thrown off by her Yankee accent.
Luckily, while Gannon lacks enthusiasm for rocks, she “really likes hydrology,” and is passionate about the impact of geology on human health.
This summer Gannon will study soil contamination in Milwaukee with Assistant Professor of Geology Andrew Knudsen. Gannon’s research was enabled through the McNair Scholars Program. Over the past few years, Knudsen mapped small sections of a Milwaukee park to determine its soil chemistry.
The goal is to survey a larger area of the park this summer, with the help of some new equipment — namely an X-ray diffractometer. This machine will enable Gannon and Knudsen to conduct portable readings of the soil chemistry. This way, they will not have to bring each sample back to campus to analyze its chemistry.
Gannon is unsure what she ultimately wants to do after graduation. She may go on to graduate school for geology or environmental law. She definitely wants to take a year off from academia to travel, probably trekking across the Atlantic to visit her family in Ireland.
Although Gannon is not overjoyed to be spending her summer in an illustrious Lawrence dorm, she is enthusiastic about experiencing the famed “individualized instruction” aspect of Lawrence. She is also excited to shift from classroom to experiential learning.
Gannon believes that conducting this research is great experience, especially if she decides to pursue phase two of higher education and transform her interest in “how our environment directly impacts human life” into a career.
Even if Gannon decides to travel on another path in her green Converse sneakers, she thinks this experience will demonstrate “what I can do and what I can accomplish without a substantial knowledge in a particular area.