Evan King ’21 and Aubrey Bennett ’21 Discuss the Spring Conference as Abstract Winners

Evan King ‘21 and Aubrey Bennett ‘21 recently participated in the Spring 2021 Undergraduate Research Competition and they won the top prize for the thematic category of physical sciences! Evan and Aubrey examined the geologic history of Mercury’s Caloris Basin using mapped faulting patterns within superposed volcanic flows. We were able to ask them a few questions about their research and what it was like to present at the Conference! 

OUR: What did you research and why?

Evan: We have researched the history of faulting patterns within the Caloris Basin on Mercury, which is a large impact structure. We did this to reveal the tectonic history of the basin, to further the understanding of Mercury’s stress fields, and the evolution of large-scale planetary impact structures.

“We did this to reveal the tectonic history of the basin, to further the understanding of Mercury’s stress fields, and the evolution of large-scale planetary impact structures.”

OUR: How long have you been conducting research and what have you learned from it?

Both: 2 years. We have learned how to effectively communicate our ideas and results to both other students and to scientists in the field. In terms of scientific knowledge, we have been able to determine that Caloris Basin’s stress field has varied over time and that the stress fields do not match what we expect from these types of structures.

OUR: How did you get started in research? 

Evan: I reached out to Professor Freed to gain some experience in conducting research. The whole Planetary Science field is based on research and asking questions, as there is so much we don’t know about space!

Aubrey: Professor Freed gave a guest lecture in one of my classes. I was so fascinated by the talk that I reached out to him about undergraduate research!

OUR: Do you think doing research has benefited your college career?

Evan: It has given me the opportunity to get to know so many more people within the department, and to have a more relaxed, explorative approach to learning!

“It has given me the opportunity to get to know so many more people within the department, and to have a more relaxed, explorative approach to learning!”

Aubrey: Definitely yes! I feel that doing research has helped me to develop skills in critical problem solving, collaboration, and communication.

I feel that doing research has helped me to develop skills in critical problem solving, collaboration, and communication.

Also, as Evan said, it has introduced me to more people within the department!

OUR: How does research support your future goals?

Both: In graduate school, we will have to use the same skills in order to carry out our research projects and collaborate with other scientists. We will also have to present our findings at large conferences and be able to defend our results!

OUR: Who has mentored you in your research experience?

Both: Gregory Gosselin, a Ph.D. student in Planetary Sciences. He is investigating the evolution of the Caloris Basin and the planet Mercury as a whole. 

OUR: How did your mentor support you during your research? 

Both: Greg gave suggestions as to how we might improve our methodology at each step of the project. He gave invaluable advice towards us preparing our presentation and how we might prepare our figures for our audience to understand.

OUR: What was it like to present at the Spring Undergraduate Research Conference?

Both: It was really fun to see our work finally come together as one presentation. After all of our hard work, and endless discussions as to what we wanted to explore, it was nice to be able to make conclusions and see some real examples of how our work has furthered knowledge in the field.

“It was really fun to see our work finally come together as one presentation. After all of our hard work, and endless discussions as to what we wanted to explore, it was nice to be able to make conclusions and see some real examples of how our work has furthered knowledge in the field.”

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