Friday, July 15, 2011

Katrina Burch, MCC-Blue River grad, globe hops for geology

An earthquake simulation related to the Great American Shakeout, a project
which Katrina Burch worked on recently

Katrina Burch began her higher education in geology at MCC-Blue River and has taken it all the way to South Korea where she is currently pursuing graduate studies in geophysics under a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).Katrina made a huge impression on her instructors here; whenever her name comes up, those who shared her Blue River experience vie to share stories of her time on campus. 

Here at MCC-Blue River, Katrina developed an orientation program for incoming Freshmen. Counselor Jeff Wilt says, “Katrina was instrumental in helping to develop the new student orientation program for Blue River which has gone on to be a model for the district. She helped to develop a database of students who had been contacted, recording their responses and their attendance. She also invited students to attend orientation and professors to speak at the orientation events. “[Katrina] excelled in the classroom as well...” Wilt continued. Katrina advised students as a peer-advisor, suggesting classes and tutoring in our academic resource center.

At UMKC Katrina has worked through the Geoscience Education Opportunities: Partnerships to Advance Teaching and Scholarship program. GEOPATHS, as the program is called by acronym, is designed to bring
geo sciences into sharp focus for Missouri students and to prepare them for careers in geo and environmental sciences. She also devoted time to Science Power, an outreach program intended to encourage inner city students to enter scientific fields. In addition Katrina has been involved in the AS-1 training program for high school teachers.

Close up of earthquake simulation
As if all of that was not enough to fill her time, Katrina also organized participation in the Great American Shakeout program last semester. Shakeout is preparing people throughout the Midwest, especially youngsters, for catastrophic earthquakes. The New Madrid fault, geologists warn, is due for a major quake sometime this century, and Missourians are woefully ill-prepared.

After graduating from UMKC in 2009 with high honors, Katrina joined a study project called Earthscope, also funded by the NSF. Katrina says, “I was part of a two person team siting seismometer locations for the transportable array project. I've also worked on research looking at the paleoclimate in the Aqaba Basin in Jordan, investigated seismicity on the New Madrid Seismic Zone and an archaeological project at Ft Osage using ground-penetrating radar.” Her education has carried her around the world to learn about the earth and its movements.

By the end of this coming fall, Katrina shall have earned a master’s degree in geology from UMKC and will embark upon a PhD program elsewhere. For now, she is working and studying geology in South Korea and loving every minute of it.

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