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Field camp scholarships help future geologists prepare for their careers

Field camp
May 17, 2012

In the summer, students and faculty from ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration leave the lab behind to conduct hands-on research in the field.

Field camp is a tradition in the education of a geologist – supported by the old adage that the best geologists are the ones who have seen the most rocks. It provides students the opportunity to apply what has been learned in the classroom and laboratory to real geological problems in the field.

The School of Earth and Space Exploration offers two basic field courses – Field Geology I (GLG 451) and Field Geology II (GLG452). Field II, commonly known as Field Camp, has been offered in its present form for 12 years and is highly recommended for students majoring in the Earth and Space Exploration concentration in geological sciences. The students spend three weeks in a hands-on environment learning fieldwork techniques outside of Payson, Ariz.

Field II is expensive (tuition plus a $869 class fee) and it takes students away from summer jobs for three weeks so it can be a financial hardship. To provide financial assistance to students who might otherwise not be able to afford the expenses of field camp, two scholarships exist – the Robert Dietz Field Camp Scholarship, named after a former professor in geology at ASU, and the Ravi DeFilippo Geology Field Camp Scholarship, in memory of a recent alumnus who died in a mining accident August 2010.

For many years, the Robert S. Dietz Field Camp Scholarships were funded by Professor Robert S. Dietz using his own personal resources. Now, SESE carries on this tradition in his memory awarding the scholarships to support students who are majoring in geology. This year, two recipients were selected to receive $500 scholarships: William Akers and Samuel Ybarra, both students are majoring in Earth and Space Exploration with a concentration in geological sciences.

The Ravi DeFilippo Geology Field Camp Scholarship was created in 2010 in honor of Ravi DeFilippo, a 2009 graduate of SESE from Tucson, Ariz. The scholarship covers the amount of the field camp fee and is made possible by gifts from Ravi’s family and friends to honor his memory and his love of field geology. The recipient of this year’s Ravi DeFilippo Geology Field Camp Scholarship is Lori Prause.

“Field work is a very important part of a geologist’s education. Everything learned in the classroom over many years is collectively applied to the rocks, structures, and depositions in nature,” says Prause. “The cost of a concentrated field class is naturally expensive given that shelter, food, and a classroom are necessary for the students. Having assistance for part of the expense by way of a scholarship is of great help for a valuable experience that might not be feasible without it.”

Michelle Aigner, a senior working toward her bachelor of sciences with a focus on geological sciences, was the recipient of the first Ravi DeFilippo Geology Field Camp Scholarship.

“This scholarship really helped relieve the stress of trying to come up with time to earn more money for camp and the missed time at work when I would be at camp,” says Aigner, who juggles a part-time job in between her studies and caring for her recently widowed mother. “I love geology and field camp was an awesome way to integrate all the subjects I’d learned so far and just a really great experience.”

“Students will be practicing their field mapping skills, data collection skills, interpretation and writing skills as well as preparation of accurate maps and cross sections. They will be working independently in rugged terrain and forest to uncover the geology and interpret the geologic history of the area,” explains SESE Professor Tom Sharp, instructor of Field II. “This course compliments their classroom work by providing an independent study experience that brings in all of their geologic knowledge to solve problems in the field.”

Not being able to work for three weeks in the summer places a large financial burden on students. Therefore, SESE is seeking to increase its available support so that every student participating in the field camp can receive some level of aid, but your help is needed to make this happen.

To make a gift to one of the field camp scholarship funds – in any amount – click the links below.

Ravi DeFilippo Geology Field Camp Scholarship:

Robert S. Dietz Field Camp Scholarships: