Congratulations to our May Undergraduate of the Month, Devin Simmons! Devin is double majoring in Geology and GIS!

What are your interests within your program(s)?

Broadly, I’m fascinated by the environmental side of geology. My specific interests are based in the physical and chemical processes that influence water quality in freshwater systems, especially streams and aquifers. I plan to study a topic related to water quality when I start my senior thesis in the fall, and I hope to apply remote sensing and GIS wherever possible.

What previous jobs, internships, and volunteer experience have you had?

In the summer of 2016, I interned at the National Center for Smart Growth on campus. I spent ten weeks working on a project that focused on predicting changing demographics in the DC/Baltimore metropolitan areas. It was here that I was first exposed to GIS.

During the summer of 2017 I interned at the American Museum of Natural History, where I worked on a project that sought to characterize mineral assemblages from NYC specimens held in the museum’s collection. This involved using X-Ray diffraction, hand sample analysis, and chemical analysis to identify minerals present.

Where are you/have you been interning?

Currently I work in Dr. Sarah Penniston-Dorland’s Isotope Geochemistry Lab.

What are your internship responsibilities?

I perform laboratory procedures that prepare rock samples for later analysis. After crushing and dissolving selected samples, I run them through chemical columns which help to isolate the lithium ions present. After going through the columns, the samples are sent to a multicollector, which provides isotopic data on the lithium ions. The rocks my professor works with are primarily from subduction zones, and lithium ion data helps provide insight into fluid movement in such areas.

What project(s) are you working on or contributing to?

My lab work has assisted in projects related to exhumed subduction zone rocks from Santa Catalina Island, California and the Swiss Alps.

How is the internship experience relevant to your studies in Geographical Sciences?

Being a part of Dr. Penniston-Dorland’s research group has expanded my knowledge of the processes that occur at subduction zones and how they shape the physical geography of surrounding areas.

What are your career goals after your graduate?

I hope to work for a government agency that ensures environmental systems are in good health and oversees adherence to environmental regulations. Ideally, I would work at the US Geologic Survey, although I would be interested in working at more local levels of government as well. Overall, I’d like to work in a role that integrates my knowledge of geology, GIS, and the environment.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy cooking, hiking, and collecting rocks.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Towson, MD.

What has been your favorite class at UMD? Why?

So far, my favorite class has been GEOL342: Structural Geology. I enjoyed this course because it taught me how to recognize structural features in rocks that provide insight into its deformational history. The field trips we took to Harper’s Ferry and Great Falls, among other locations, further solidified this understanding. I can now recognize these features while hiking on my own,

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I would visit Crater Lake. It has an amazing geologic history given that it’s a sunken caldera, and all the pictures I’ve seen of it are truly beautiful.

We're so glad to have you on our GIS family, Devin! We hope to hear more about your experiences in the future!

Devin Simmons