Student Projects

Colby Geology majors who now are pursuing projects in Professor Gastaldo’s research group include:

Sean Cusack: Class of 1015

SeanCusack_WordPressSean is a second semester junior who participated in the JanPlan 2014 field season at Old Lootsberg Pass, a critical stratigraphic section in which the Permian—Triassic boundary is reported to occur.  Sean’s project focuses on rocks in which both fluvial deposits and paleosols alternate and represent ancient landscapes on either side of the extinction event.  Sean originates from Chicago, Illinois, where he attended a private, French speaking school prior to arriving in Maine.


Tara Chizinski '14Tara Chizinski: Class of 2014

Tara was one of three students who participated in a JanPlan field season in the Karoo Basin, South Africa.  She is characterizing the latest Permian (Changhsingian, 252 mya) river systems exposed at Wapadsberg Pass, testing the hypothesis of an increasingly dry and arid seasonal landscape prior to the Permian Extinction event, as recognized on reptile biostratigraphy.  Tara comes from Pearl River, New  York, and spent a semester abroad in Australia.

Dan LangwenyaMduduzi (Dan) Langwenya: Class of 2014

Dan originates from Swaziland, and arrived at Colby following his education at the United World College in Italy. He is a double major in Geology and Economics, and spent JanPlan 2012 in the Karoo Basin as a research-team member. Dan’s project, in conjunction with Kody Spencer, is to develop a stratigraphic framework for a latest Permian section of rock near Nieu Bethesda that extends to near the Permian-Triassic boundary.

Kody Spencer: Class of 2014

Kody hails from the State of Vermont where he competed in cross country skiing.  Currently, he is a member of Colby’s cross country ski team and in 2011 competed in the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Rumford.  Kody is a Geology major and is working with Dan, his first-year roommate, on developing a stratigraphic framework for a latest Permian interval in which a fossil forest-floor litter is preserved.

You can learn more about their experiences in South Africa by visiting their blogExtinct South Africa.

Read about them in a featured InsideColby article:  For Starters – Digging into History