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IRIS Orientation Week Kick-starts a Busy Summer for Student Interns

For the last few years, several students have gathered at the PASSCAL Instrument Center (PIC) for the IRIS Undergraduate Internship Orientation Week.  In the IRIS Undergraduate Intern program, fifteen students fan out to conduct seismological research at thirteen
host institutions.  The program is organized and run by Michael Hubenthal of IRIS.  This year, the staff for the week-long orientation program included Rick Aster (NMT), Greg Chavez (PIC), Kent Condie (NMT), Katie Foster (U. of Wyoming & Program Alumnus), Bruce Harrison (NMT), Michael Hubenthal (IRIS), Hunter Knox (Sandia National Lab), Jesse Lawrence (Stanford University), William McIntosh  (NM Bureau of Geology), Sandra Saldaña (Noble Energy), John Taber (IRIS), and Dave Thomas (PIC), along with Student Assistant Rob Anthony (NMT Grad Student & Program Alumnus).


The week began with an informal welcome barbecue Sunday night at the home of Rick Aster (NMT Earth and Environmental Science).  Here, Rick and Michael Hubenthal of IRIS listen to the students as they introduce themselves to the rest of the attendees.




Student Calvin Johnson introduces himself to his fellow interns.






Each student intern received a notebook with program information, space for notes, and more.



By Monday morning, the interns were busy installing fully-functional broadband seismometer stations at three locations near the PASSCAL Instrument Center. Here, Noor Ghouse levels a broadband sensor.




Program director Michael Hubenthal points to something of interest as the students finish their broadband station.




One of three broadband installation teams, happy to have installed their first working station.




A second team of interns, installing their broadband station.  The PASSCAL Instrument Center appears in the background.




 Jesse Lawrence of Stanford University lectures interns on the basics of seismological science.





Each intern received a copy of An Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes, and Earth Structure by Seth Stein and Michael Wysession as part of their course materials.




Katie Foster (U. of Wyoming & Program Alumnus) leads the interns in a class session on data acquisition techniques.




Eric Makarewicz (blue shirt) and Greg Chavez (kneeling), both from the PASSCAL Instrument Center, coach the interns on proper operation of a Geometrics multi-channel seismic instrument.







Here, intern Rachel Pettit prepares to deliver a mighty blow with a sledgehammer.  This impact will create an active impulse, to be measured by a group of distinct seismic sensors.





Orientation week included several field opportunities for all the student participants.







The interns visit the Quebradas for a close-up inspection of the Magdalena Fault.





On the last Friday of Orientation Week, all participants gathered at San Lorenzo Canyon (north of Socorro) for an old-fashioned campfire, barbecue, sing-along and story-telling.  Here, guest speaker Benjamin Radford, author and deputy editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer, explores the canyon area.




The Interns fan out out for a pre-dinner hike at San Lorenzo Canyon.




Ecstatic to be back in their native habitat, several of the interns relax among the rocky crags of the Baca formation.






In San Lorenzo Canyon, the Baca Formation consists of brick-red, cobble to boulder conglomerates, dominated by granitic clasts.




At the post-dinner campfire, author Ben Radford talks to the attendees about science, pseudoscience, and the legend of the Chupacabra.


Campfire Show-and-Tell:

Ben Radford obtained this specimen, touted as "The Chupacabra," after it was found in the desert near Albuquerque, and reported on several television stations.  This is not the Chupacabra, however, but simply the remains of a dried skate fish, known as a "Jenny Haniver."




Rick Aster (left) and the interns listening attentively as Ben Radford talks about his investigations of the paranormal.


As busy as orientation week was, it was only the beginning of a summer-long immersion into seismology and geology for the participants.  As they fanned out to different programs and regions, the interns were encouraged to leverage blogs, Facebook groups and other cyberinfrastructure to remain connected, and continue to learn and help one another. 

The IRIS Internship Program website has much more information on the students and their activities over the summer. This year's interns and hosts/institutions are:

Name Institution Host
Ryan Armstrong U. of Wisconsin-­Madison Dr. Ellen Syracuse
Greg Brenn Boise State University Dr. Lee Liberty
Leah Campbell USGS Menlo Park Dr. Rufus Catchings
Lily Christman Stanford University Dr. Simon Klemperer
Erin Cunningham IRIS & U. of Maryland, College Park Dr(s). Andy Frassetto & Ved Lekic
Noor Ghouse MIami University Dr. Mike Brudzinski
Eva Golos Stanford University Dr. Simon Klemperer
Dulcie Head Australian National University Dr. Hrvoje Tkalcic
Ayla Heinze Fry University of Alaska, Fairbanks Dr. Michael West
Calvin Johnson MIami University Dr. Mike Brudzinski
David Krzesni Cornell University Dr. Matt Pritchard
Amanda Livers Virginia Tech Dr. John Hole
Rachel Petit Virginia Tech Dr. John Hole
Anna Pfohl Saint Louis University Dr. Linda Warren
Maya Wei USGS Pasadena Field Office Dr(s). Danielle Sumy & Elizabeth Cochran

Main Intern

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