The rich geological history of Richmond, Indiana, has provided the perfect environment for Lyndsey Tu ’14 to pursue her love for geology and her service work in the Richmond community.
Tu transferred to Earlham as a sophomore, drawn to the academic and social community on campus. “There are a lot of really exceptional students here who do really amazing things with their lives,” she says. “To be surrounded by that is really inspiring.”
The experiential nature of Earlham’s geology classes have allowed Tu to deeply understand the earth and how it works. Indiana once lay beneath a shallow sea filled with brachiopods and corals, which have been fossilized into perfect specimens that can be found all over campus. “There are amazing fossils just tumbling out of outcrops all around us,” Tu explains, and visiting these areas during class helps her to cement her understanding of this history. “When you see it in context, it suddenly has meaning,” she says. “That meaning sticks with you; you don’t always understand if you just see a sample isolated in the classroom. I won’t remember its name or how it was formed.”
Last fall, Tu embarked on a field trip to investigate the geology of Missouri, camping with her professors and peers and exploring the new landscape. The group ventured into a lead mine with a geologist to learn about the surveying and calculations that he makes. “It was great to see what he does on a daily basis and how he interprets the geology,” Tu says. One of the most important skills for a geologist, she believes, is the ability to translate information from a specific outdoor environment to a wider audience. “I have definitely learned that at Earlham,” she says.
Mapping Local Fossils
Tu also completed a survey of fossils in the Richmond area. As one of Earlham’s 60 Bonner Scholars, she commits ten hours each week to service in the Richmond community. This year, Tu has been working with the Richmond Tourism Bureau to create a fossil trail along the Cardinal Greenway, Indiana’s longest Rails-to-Trails project.
By developing a map of fossil outcrops along the trail, she hopes visitors will learn about the history and science behind what they see. This project integrates Tu’s desire to make science education experiential—as she has learned best through her coursework at Earlham—and also organizing a community project in Richmond’s outdoors. “To be able to highlight and illustrate an element of Richmond’s history has been an incredible experience,” she says.
Next year, Tu hopes to work with freshwater in alpine environments, continuing research she conducted this summer in Rocky Mountain National Park and solidifying her interest in geological research.