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Geosciences METRO Center

Current Students


Shelby Jones

Student: Shelby Jones

Major: Geology

Advisor: Dr. Christopher Pluhar

Area: Paleogeography and Paleomagnetism

The Sierra Nevada are one of the most prominent geological features in western North America. Composed chiefly of granitic plutons the Sierras are also home to extrusive volcanic debris about 9 million year old. This volcanic debris can be used for several purposes including research on modern Sierra Nevada microplate tilting and timing as well as reconstruction of paleogeography. As part of a larger research group I am focusing on compiling several years of data (modern topographic structures, aerial extent of mapped locations, and paleomagnetic), into a GIS map, with the intent of creating a model of the central Sierra Nevada's paleogeography. The Geosciences METRO Center continually offers me opportunities to work with professors, research groups, and lab equipment. Working one-on-one with my advisor has provided me with real field experience and a project that could potentially become my senior thesis. Following graduation I plan to attend graduate school.

Daniel Suvanto

Student: Daniel Suvanto

Major: Environmental Science

Advisor: Dr. Zhi Wang

Area: Hydrology

The Most precious asset that the world offers is its wide biodiversity. Protecting this biodiversity is crucial to our existence, and the continued functioning of ecosystems and individual niches. The Central Valley's San Joaquin River is a thriving ecosystem, which for decades has been damaged due to human activity. Urban runoff, caused by human actions, such as, washing cars, break pads, and lawn fertilizers, enters the San Joaquin River, and is a major threat to the river's biodiversity, causing major problems in the abundance of organisms. The Woodward Lakes community produces a high level of urban runoff, which is full of nitrogen's, heavy metals, and detergents; these contaminants enter the San Joaquin River through a series of marsh lands and aquifers, with a purpose of filtering out contaminants. Understanding the effectiveness of these filtering systems helps to determine necessary actions which can improve the water quality which is exiting the filtering system. The reduction of harmful toxins in the runoff would have a positive impact on the water quality and overall condition of the river.

 Kayla Kelly-Slaton

Student: Kayla Kelly-Slatten

Major: Environmental Science

Advisor: Dr. Peter Van de Water and Dr. Donald Hunsaker

Area: Environmental Historical Documentation, Nuclear Energy Development, and Glaciology

The Magic Lantern was developed in the 1600's and was one of the first image projectors to be developed used. Most Magic Lanterns today are found only in museums and as part of collections that belong to prestigious connoisseurs. Dr. Van de Water recently discovered boxes of glass sides that looked like old projector images (quite possible versions of Magic Lantern slides), and decided to turn into a project. I have been sorting through the slides while cleaning them, and cataloging them onto a computer. Later I will scan them onto the computer and eventually put them on a website for others to view and learn from. Some of them were definitely used in lectures and demonstrations because of their sources and the specific diagrams and captions. The glass sides range from photographs of mountains, deserts, caves, and faults to fossils, dinosaurs, bryozoans and trilobites; there are even a few that show early field research parties. A large number of the slides were photographs of glaciers, most found in Alaska and Greenland. Hopefully I will be able to conduct my senior project on these glaciers by re-photographing the glaciers and calculating how much they have retreated.

Besides documenting these old glass slides, I am also helping Dr. Van de Water with an atmospheric study in conjunction with NASA. The project is set in the Southwestern United States, and tests air quality by counting pollen grains that have been recorded in "pollen traps." I ready the microscope slides for Dr. Van de Water to analyze by melting pink stained glycerin jelly and then cleaning the edges and rewrite any given information (date, location, and time). The slides date back to 2010 and it is an ongoing project.

During the summer 2011, I also gained a strong interest in the Fresno Nuclear Controversy. With encouragement and reading materials from Dr. Hunsaker, my background research on nuclear energy has encompassed learning about how nuclear plants work and operate, the statistics of nuclear power, the pros and cons of this alternative energy, the regulations and laws involving nuclear power, nuclear energy in the news today, and the future of nuclear power. I wish to stay involved with the development of nuclear power, and with my views and eagerness to learn, help to develop a regional energy plan for the Central Valley.

METRO has given me an early start in the geosciences world. It has provided opportunity and has helped me get my foot in the door of the research world. I hope to continue working for METRO and Dr. Van de Water and eventually begin my own research project focusing on either climate change or marine ecology.

Barry Smith

Student: Barry Smith

Major: Geology

Advisor: Dr. Pete Van de Water

Area: Paleoenvironments

I am working with Dr. Pete Van de Water studying the correlation between climate change and growth patterns on both genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as well as non-GMO plants using a technique that analyzes the ratio of isotopes of oxygen and carbon within the plant tissue. The technique involves sampling a part of the leaf of said plants and studying the weighed results obtained from Mass Spectrometry analysis. From this study, I hope to learn both, how quickly GMOs genes are spreading into non-GMO plants growing around them, as well as how climate change is affecting the growth rates of GMO and non-GMO plants.

In addition to working with Dr. Van de Water, I have just returned from Iceland where I participated in a study abroad trip where I studied the geology of Iceland and had a close look at the volcanos and glaciers that exist there, as well as learning about the history of Iceland's geological history. I also learned about how Icelanders takes advantage of their unique environment such as geothermal vents to create inexpensive power for its citizens.

Working with METRO has been a great experience so far, and has given me experience conducting actual research while I work towards my degree. Since I am planning on attending Graduate school, the experience I gain through METRO will help to prepare me for the future.

 Victor Valdivia

Student: Victor J. Valdivia

Major: Undeclared

Advisor: Robert G. Dundas

Area: Paleontology

I am currently working with Dr. Dundas and his team to catalog new or known species of animals that are being found at Madera County Fairmead Landfill. Since this is my second year with the METRO program and second year with Dr. Dundas I have started off slow, familiarizing myself with how things are done. I am not a paleontology major nor do I have a set major but I have always been fascinated by the work done by paleontologists, especially after seeing many shows on dinosaurs and animals from the past. This is why I chose to get into the METRO program to fulfill my curiosity of working with fossils and learning all I can about them.

The first year I started off by working in the lab, hands on with the fossils in the Fossil Preparation process where I took the fossils taken from the Fairmead Landfill and I prepared them in order to help identify the bone fragments. I recorded what we uncovered from the Landfill and if any bone fragments need further attention, like a broken bones, I tried to reconnect those fragments together with special glues and other materials found in the lab. So basically what I learned my first year was to prepare bone fragments and identify some of the bones I uncovered from the sediments.

This coming year Dr. Dundas has given me the opportunity to start my own research on a certain animal who's bones have been discovered at the Landfill and need to have more thorough research done on it. This animal is (Clemmys Marmorata) better known as the Western Pond Turtle. My job will be to look at some of the bone fragments found so far and identify what kind of species they are, their habitat, their location where they use to live, and what happened to them.

For this I'm so glad and thankful for METRO and Dr. Dundas for giving me this opportunity to participate in this wonderful program so far it has been memorable, educational, the people are great, and above all it might help me in choosing my long term career.


Steffany Aguilar

Student: Steffany Aguilar

Major: Geology

Advisor: Dr. John Wakabayashi

Area: Earth Science; Tectonics

The past year I have been working with Dr. John Wakabayashi investigating Mélange forming processes by a field study of serpentinite mélange in the East San Jose area. He began by preparing me for the field of research, I reviewed several published works on occurrences of mélanges in the Franciscan subduction complex, and the great valley group forearc basin deposits, two of the main units of the former subducting plate boundary found in or near the field area. To gain further insight into the unknown serpentinite mélanges and matrix mélanges will be examined and analyzed, while learning more about the geological features surrounding and comprising this area. The specific objective of my research is to determine whether the serpentinite mélanges in the study area formed as "feeders"(diapers) of serpentinite mud volcanoes, or sedimentary units(including mud volcano deposits), either in the forearc basin or subduction complex, or whether they represent major fault zones. Through METRO, I was able to network, and attain an internship at the El Dorado National Forest this summer. I was able to expand my research skills and learn about the geology there. The METRO program has been a stepping stone is my college career. I thank METRO for the guidance and leadership throughout the past year, which has assisted me in further development of my scientific career, as well as my ability to implement individual projects. The experience I have gained working with my advisor has allowed me expand my knowledge on tectonics, researching skills, and all aspects of the scientific community. Upon Graduation next year, I hope to attend graduate school and further my research in Geology.

Amber Olsson

Student: Amber Olsson

Major: Geography

Advisor: Dr. Segun Ogunjemiyo

Area: Atmospheric Science

My passions for the physical and environmental sciences have drawn my interests to focus on how atmospheric conditions develop naturally and anthropogenically, how they affect human welfare, and their regional impacts. I am currently seeking my BS in Geography with a minor in Urban Studies. By joining the METRO program, I hope to gain hands on experience in data collection and analysis of air pollutants such as ozone, particulate matter, greenhouse gases, volatile organic compounds, and hazardous air pollutants, and how temperature, relative humidity and wind all play major roles in the atmosphere's chemistry. Working under Dr Ogunjemiyo, my goal is to develop a better understanding of how these gases and particulates interact within our atmosphere, and how they may affect human health and environmental conditions. I have been able to familiarize myself with many different pieces of equipment, such as the ozonesondes and their calibration, and the tethersondes, which we attach to a blimp to get atmosphere profiles. We also install a tower with various pieces of equipment. I believe this experience will be vital in my continuing education and any future employment. I have also helped with METRO's Stellar Science program that reaches out to younger students. I see this as a great way to get involved with the community and our younger science scholars. I will also have the chance to go to Iowa to learn data processing. I see this is a great opportunity to expand my experience with data analysis and research in other locations, not to mention a great chance to meet and work with a variety of other people in other research fields!

Joshua Marroquin

Student: Joshua Marroquin

Major: Civil Engineering

Minor: Geology

Advisor: Dr. John Wakabayashi

Area: Geochemistry of Franciscan Complex Greywacke

Geosciences METRO has provided me a way to advance my studies beyond engineering through research in a professional environment. I have been conducting research with Dr. John Wakabayashi on the geochemistry of Franciscan complex greywacke. This involved collecting samples in the field areas and processing them in the labs at CSU Fresno. Some of the samples collected range from the Panoche Hills region to as far north as the former El Cerrito Quarry. Whole rock geochemistry is important to understand the processes involved in the formation of these greywackes, including insight into their sources and the processes that may have affected those sources. This study seeks indications of sediment source and transport paths, the impact of weathering on the sediment source, and with fluid sources within a subduction zone. In order to obtain the necessary data, the rock samples are processed and put through an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to analyze major oxides and trace element compositions.

Working through Geosciences METRO so far has been a blessing and a great experience. I plan to pursue a career in geotechnical engineering which is a sub discipline of civil engineering. Working with geologists will help me better understand earth's processes and provide an advantage over other engineers in having a background in conducting geologic research. Geosciences METRO has provided me the proper skills to succeed not only in education, but in the future work environment.


Aroob Abdelhamid

Student: Aroob Abdelhamid

Major: Chemistry

Supervisor: Dr. Alam Hasson

Area: Atmospheric Chemistry

When I entered college and I brought up the idea of research, many people were put off by the idea of working 2 million hours a week, with no opportunities to sleep, see any other human beings, or having no time to make money to survive. I was told to be very cautious in accepting a research opportunity. Wary of all this, I tread onto the dangerous world of research, and stumbled onto atmospheric chance. Dr. Hasson was basically the first advisor to email back. The ride since then has been almost as crazy as the actual atmosphere I study.

Basically, my group wants to know what happens to carbonyls, nitrogen oxides, and other classes of compounds when reacting with radicals in the air, in terms of what their mechanisms are, the kinetics behind each reaction, and the major products. We also look at dairy farms in the San Joaquin Valley to analyze how concentrations of certain VOC's (harsh chemicals) are increasing or decreasing, and this knowledge is used to help create regulations for how dairy farms should be run. In other words, we're doing some decently important stuff.

Before I mention why METRO is so important, I would first like to resolve some myths set by the first paragraph. I sleep a decent number of hours a day (except during finals week), I get paid to sit in a lab and crank out important information that helps people (and makes me smarter), and I still see my mother EVERY DAY. I'm kidding, I love her. However, I also have a better social life because of research. I was essentially put in a tight-knit group of people who had very similar goals and loves as me. They are now some of my closest friends. To add icing to this already delicious cake, I'm learning skills that will help me in numerous ways well past graduation.

Without METRO, none of this would have been as focused as it is. METRO gives me guidance, gave me the chance to work at a USDA lab in Iowa for a month, and continues to help me try to become the scientist everyone is jealous of in the movies.


Shelby Frederickson

Student: Shelby Frederickson

Major: Geology

Advisor: Dr. Christopher Pluhar

Area: Tectonics, Paleomagnetism, Eastern California Tectonics

I intend to reconstruct the paleotopography of the region including Bodie Hills, NNW of Mono Lake. This will complement my investigation of eastern Californian tectonics. To start, I will focus on identifying and mapping the extent of the Tollhouse Flat Member and Upper Member of the Eureka Valley Tuff. Geochemical, stratigraphic, and paleomagnetic studies of self-collected samples of these ignimbrites will aid my understanding of tectonic deformation east of the Sierra Nevada. Multiple tectonic events such as tilting, rotating, and doming have shaped the modern topography of this area. Recording structural characteristics and deformation patterns seen in the field will guide my explanation of the mechanisms behind these events as well as quantify their effects. Coupled with age-dating, these studies will provide insight into the historic tectonic activity of eastern California and the geologic evolution of the western United States.

METRO has given me an incredible opportunity to collaborate with professionals in my field. The guidance I receive is truly unique to this program. The professors and colleagues I have encountered through METRO have inspired me to seek what is not already known, to research that which is not simple, and to surpass the expectations of common education.

David Bailey

Student: David Bailey

Major: Geography

Supervisor: Dr. Segun Ogunjemiyo

Area: Atmospheric Science and GIS

As a student of Physical Geography, I have a broad interest in studying geologic processes within a spatial context. My varied interests include: watershed science, GIS terrain analysis, air quality, environmental pollution and small scale atmospheric processes. My research with the METRO program involves the investigation of small- scale meteorological processes as well as the spatial and temporal variability of ozone within the boundary layer. Ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. However, the variability of ozone depends on many different factors. Under the guidance of Dr. Ogunjemiyo and other research scientists, I have been able to investigate this process by measuring ozone levels directly using advanced and innovative instruments. Along with USDA scientists and other air quality specialists, my colleagues and I are currently collecting data in Hanford, CA using a ground tower attached with sensors to measure meteorological data such as, wind speed, wind direction, relative humidity and temperature. In addition, we are using a balloon attached with tethersonde and ozonesonde sensors in order to obtain vertical profiles of atmospheric data such as ozone, temperature, potential temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and wind direction. The METRO program has given me a great opportunity to work alongside research scientists and experts across different fields, in which I have gained valuable knowledge. In addition, I have gained important research skills that I believe will significantly help me in my graduate studies research.

Dale Rieth

Student: Dale R. Rieth

Major: Geology

Advisor: Dr. Zhi "Luke" Wang

Area: Hydrogeology, Mining Reclamation, Water and Soil Quality

I am currently working with an outstanding team under the supervision of Dr. Wang. We are investigating water and soil quality of the shallow saline aquifer in and around Naval Air Station Lemoore.

The Naval Air Station Lemoore (NASL) is located in the western part of the San Joaquin Valley which has long been affected by soil and groundwater salinization due to drainage of irrigated agricultural fields (DWR, 2003). The goal of this DoD-funded research is to evaluate the shallow saline groundwater and soil properties and recommend a science-based monitoring program. The objective of this specific lab study is to measure the soil organic matter contents and soil particle size distributions on core samples obtained from 12 new wells drilled to 20 feet below the surface in 2011 and 16 new wells drilled to 20 feet in 2012. The results will be used for the shallow saline groundwater modeling, management and soil remediation.

Field work includes data collection of water quality where PH, Dissolved Oxygen, Electro Conductivity, Salinity, Temperature and Water Table Depth are monitored. In the lab I have developed and implemented procedures for new well core Soil Moisture and Organic content, Particle Size Analysis using a standard Laser Diffraction unit measuring particle size from 1.00 to 500.00 microns, Spectrometers to measure water turbidity and I am currently working with Dr. Wang on the correlation between Turbidity and Clay size particles and will be utilizing the facilities and Back Scattering Laser Diffraction unit under the guidance of Dr. Ivano Aiello at The Moss Landing Marine Laboratory for analysis of soil particles greater than .0004 microns.

The GeoSciences Metro Center has helped me in ways I once only imagined. The field experience and technical lab duties for the NAS Lemoore project are stepping stones to a brighter future. The guidance I am receiving is second to none. It culminates into experience that can be applied to a challenge I am very passionate about and eager to start, the removal of Methylmercury from our fresh water drainages.

Kassandra Hishida

Student: Kassandra Hishida

Major: Environmental Science

Advisor: Dr. Zhi Wang

Area: Hydrology

Dr. Wang and several of his colleagues have spent the last year taking samples and compiling data from a series of over 80 wells surrounding the Naval Air Station in Lemoore. Most of the land surrounding the station has been rented out to local farmers. Due to agricultural activity, the land has been heavily irrigated over the years. As a result, salinization and declining water quality have become a concern for the air station. Dr. Wang and his team will analyze their data and advise the Lemoore Naval Air Station based on their results.

I began working in Dr. Wang's Hydrology lab towards the end of their project, but have learned a lot since joining the team this past spring. I have gained valuable lab training experience and I have been out to Lemoore twice so far. There I was able to assist with field measurements where we took well-water samples to assess changes in water quality. The parameters we measured included pH, total dissolved solids, temperature, electrical conductivity, and several others. My main contribution to the team has been data processing. In addition to typing up and organizing our latest well-water data, I have also been looking at old water and soil quality reports that date back as far as several decades ago. The old reports had been scanned as pdf files, so it was my job to enter the data into an excel spreadsheet so that it was readily available to be used for modeling work and analysis.

In addition to working with Dr. Wang, I have been selected to work with Dr. Gary Greene this summer at Orcas Island. I will be up North for five weeks helping with a marine benthic habitat mapping project that Dr. Greene is in charge of. During my time in Orcas Island I will be working full time and gaining experience with the GIS program.

Working with METRO has been a great experience so far, and has really helped me put my foot in the door. Although I have no idea what my post-graduation plans are, my work with METRO is introducing me to some great opportunities and bringing me that much closer to where I am going.

Justin Lindman

Student: Justin Lindeman

Major: Geology

Advisor: Dr. Christopher Pluhar

Area: Paleomagnetism

Research, studying, and field work are essential to geology majors and working with the Geosciences METRO Center emphasizes this. While a student at Fresno City College, my geology professor encouraged me to apply for the program. Upon acceptance, I was allowed to research laboratories, trying to find a good fit for myself. Because of the METRO program, I have been able to work with Dr. Pluhar and other students in the field and in the lab, and my varied experiences are helping to focus where my interests and talents lie. I have joined a large research group that focuses on many areas and I am being encouraged to look at all things geology. Recently, field work in Devil's Punch Bowl gave me the chance to look at faults, contacts, and other geological structures in real-world applications. Being able to see geologic features firsthand is important in our field and the extra time spent researching and studying various aspects of geology is priceless. In addition to this trip, and others later this summer, I am being trained on laboratory equipment and given assignments that help develop the scientific mind.

METRO has given me an advanced start into my geologic studies by offering the opportunity to become actively involved in research conducted at Fresno State outside of the classroom and textbooks. Having the opportunity to work next to the professors and students in a professional work environment is inspiring and an incredible chance to get the best education possible. Because I am a new to the program, some of the research here can be intimidating, but my goal for the summer is to find an area, within our group, I can start researching on my own and continue to showcase the brilliant work here at Fresno State.

Aleia Murray

Student: Aleia Murray

Major: Chemistry

Supervisors: Dr. Alam Hasson

Area: Atmospheric Science

Summertime air pollution in California's San Joaquin Valley consists primarily of ozone. Ozone is created when heat, light, and volatile organic compounds (VOC's) react with NO and NO2 in the atmosphere. In the San Joaquin Valley, dairies are a large source of VOC's, and thus a large contributor of atmospheric pollution. Dr. Alam Hasson has made it his goal to study dairy emissions and how it correlates to air pollution. His work focuses on what compounds are being emitted, the abundance of these compounds, and what can be done about it. Research will be performed through study of air samples obtained from local dairies and the Fresno State dairy. This is an enormous undertaking, and may take many years.

My role in this project is the study of amines, a group of VOC's. We will be extracting the amines from the gas phase using solid phase micro extraction (SPME) and then injecting into a Hewlett Packard 5890 series II, 5972 GC/MS to identify which amines are present and to measure the concentrations of several amines in dairy emissions. We will compare concentrations in air samples from different areas of the dairy (e.g. silage, manure, etc.) to determine their main source and we will compare these data to other studies in order to extrapolate any trends and possible mitigating practices.

I have recently transferred to CSU Fresno from Reedley College, where I performed research for METRO at the Madera Center. As the first off-campus student to become involved with this program, I have had a unique experience. With my transfer, I am bringing to Fresno State more than a year of experience with research and instrumentation, which is a nice start to my academic career! There are now more off-campus METRO students who will be transferring in due time, and I hope to work with them, in order to help facilitate their adjustments to research at CSU Fresno. Eventually, I would also like to be a part of outreach programs in my area, in order to giver others some of these same opportunities that I have been given.