What I’ve Been Up To This Past Year…

I thought I’d tell the Skepchick readers a little about my ongoing thesis research, which I’ve been working on for about a year and a half now. I was trying to think of the best way to explain my thesis research to a general audience, and I remembered that I already had! Last fall a few of the wonderful science writers here at Woods Hole Hole Oceanographic Institution (where I’m a grad student) put together an audio slideshow about my research. A print article related to this slideshow should be coming out sometime this spring, so I’ll be sure to post a link after it’s been published. My thesis research (as I’ll probably blog about in the future) is a little more complex and specific and far less likely to “save the world” than this slideshow suggests, but this is the general idea of the research project I’m working on.

Sorry for a somewhat shameless plug for my research, but there are pretty pictures of the Omani desert. Also, I’d suggest an accompanying drinking game: drink every time I say the word “fascinating.” I hope you enjoy!

Turning Carbon Dioxide Gas into Rock


Evelyn is a geologist, writer, traveler, and skeptic residing in Cape Town, South Africa with frequent trips back to the US for work. She has two adorable cats; enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking; and has a very large rock collection. You can follow her on twitter @GeoEvelyn. She also writes a geology blog called Georneys.

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  1. Awesome post, Evelyn! I loved the slideshow and the accompanying narration. I always learn a lot from your posts, and this one was no exception. This slideshow is a compelling advertisement for any prospective geology grad students.

    I have no doubt that we will be seeing you in a future NOVA episode someday!

  2. Thanks, Rebecca! I need to be careful not to switch over to the human timescale *too* much or I run the danger of becoming a biologist :-).

  3. Evelyn,

    I enjoyed the video presentation. Thanks for posting it. Coincidentally, I read this opinion piece on the New York Times website this morning. It seems that the kind of work you are doing could literally save the world:

    Back home in East Ohio people are generally very conservative and often quite distrustful of global warming science. I think one reason is that it argues against using coal which is very abundant there – an area where the economy has been hit hard by the migration of heavy industries overseas. Breakthroughs that would make coal climate friendly could turn all that around.

    Good luck with your research.


  4. Excellent. Thank you Evelyn for sharing this with us.

    What a contrast between what we do! As a physician I deal with details and data that attempt to explain the individual’s importance in his or her own world, whereas your findings render the individual the tiniest spoke in wheel of life. Yet it all fits.

  5. Cool video, Evelyn. Your mom linked us chatroom folks to it a while back – I didn’t realize her daughter was a skepchick.

  6. Awesome! Your research sounds amazing and that was a really great presentation. My hope is that more and more scientists will be able to explain what they are working on and convey their passion and experiences as well as that.

  7. Great slide show, but watch out: rocks don’t want to be anthropomorphised.

    “I need to be careful not to switch over to the human timescale *too* much or I run the danger of becoming a biologist.”

    Yes, it happened to me. I have a PhD in astronomy and I’m now a biologist.

    Well, an evolutionary biologist.

    A mathematical evolutionary biologist.

    A mathematician pretending to be an evolutionary biologist.

    An astronomer pretending to be a mathematician pretending to be an evolutionary biologist.

    Oh heck, I guess when it comes down to it, really I’m just a computer programmer messing around in science.

  8. @Filias Cupio: Funny, James Randi had the same criticism (about anthropomorphizing the rocks) when I showed him the slideshow. You’re in good company!

    It’s always a challenge explaining science to a general audience while still remaining specific and accurate. I actually had to repeat my explanations multiple times until they were simple enough for a general audience. My interviewer kept banning key science words such as “thermodynamics” and “kinetics” and even “equilibrium.” I was also banned from using mineral names such as “brucite”, “magnesite,” and “clinopyroxene.” Once these (and many other) words were removed from my vocabulary, I was left with “the rocks… they want… want to alter. Because they’re not happy…” At least they allowed me to use the words “pressure” and “temperature.” :-).

  9. As a skepgeek, I liked the liar’s paradox aspect of the statement “rocks don’t want to be anthropomorphised.”

    I’m fine with you anthropomorphising the rocks – it was an effective dumbing down while still maintaining the essence of the point you were making. It is just the rocks which object.

    I’m somewhat envious of you for having the opportunity to be criticized by James Randi, but it occurs to me I have a similar tale. As a graduate student, I sent an e-mail which among other things gave the Swartzchild radius of a new born baby (I was objecting to an original message giving weight in pounds) – only to get a reply back from Martin Schwartzchild complaining that I’d misspelt his (or technically his father’s) name.

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