February 24, 2017
Writer: Erin McMahon
Senior Samantha Gossage is taking what she learns in her physics classrooms and turning it into real-world experience. After six months of preparation and over 400 hours of research, she presented her findings to scientists from all over the world at the American Geophysics Union (AGU) Conference in San Francisco last fall.
"Being able to go and present my research as an undergraduate student at the conference was a huge opportunity," Gossage said.
The conference reported that over 24,000 people attended in 2016, making AGU's Fall Meeting "the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world."
Gossage's faculty mentor, J. Quinn Norris of the Physics Department, invited Gossage to this event in June 2016, and worked alongside her throughout the entire project.
"The fact that Brother Norris invited me was awesome," Gossage said. "He had the faith that I could successfully do this."
Gossage prepared a conference presentation focused on her hypothesis; that the apparent randomness of earthquake sequences depends on whether small earthquakes are included in the sequence.
"She expressed interest in doing some computational research," Norris said. "I was planning on going, and I had an idea that I thought she'd be a great fit for."
Gossage's effort earned her lessons and experiences that will last a lifetime, demonstrating that applied learning and a teaching-focused faculty continue to bless the lives of students at BYU-Idaho.
"I learned a lot about the research process," Gossage said. "Asking forhelp when needed is important. Don't procrastinate, and remember to take notes. The biggest thing I learned was that hard work pays off."
Norris was impressed with the ways he saw Gossage grow professionally along the course of her project as well.
"Throughout the project, I saw her understand more about real research," Norris said. "That's what scientists do. By the end, she was able to present her work to real scientists and have real conversations with them. I really enjoyed watching Sam make that shift from being just a student to the beginnings of becoming a scientist herself."
Though Gossage's research results didn't prove her hypothesis correct in the end, she saw how the experience as a whole opened her eyes to new opportunities and pursuits.
"It helped me realize that I should reconsider graduate school," Gossage said. "I met some graduate students who were doing really interesting projects and it opened my mind up a lot to the idea."
Gossage is grateful for her experience and expressed gratitude for her faculty mentors.
"I have always been supported to do what I wanted to do by the physics faculty here since day one," Gossage said. "It was a huge motivation to have Brother Norris and the department supporting me in this."