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Emmet Norris '19 will spend his senior year at Utrecht University in the Netherlands studying aerosols and meteorological impacts of environmental contamination.

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Emmet Norris ’19 Receives National Award for Geology Research

May 9, 2018

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Geology major Emmet Norris ’19 has been awarded the Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR)
GeoCUR Award for Excellence in Student Research. This year 15 students will receive the award from the council’s “Geo” or Geosciences Division that recognizes outstanding undergraduate student researchers. All of the students–except Norris and one other–attend universities.  

“Emmet brings a genuine enthusiasm and a sense of wonder to all of his studies,” said Professor of Geology Pat Manley in her nomination of Norris. According to Manley, he assists in the geology classroom by sharing his knowledge and experience in laboratory research. “Through his presence and contributions, he has enriched his classes and the Geology Department at Middlebury over the past three years.”

In her nomination, Manley also cites the wide variety of research that Norris has pursued, including fieldwork in Utah during two consecutive summers. In 2016, he went to Utah to assist Geology Professor Jeff Munroe with the collection of alpine dust samples. In 2017, Norris returned to help Munroe obtain a stalagmite from a cave in the Uinta Mountains for climate analysis. He twice traveled to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he worked in a lab to analyze samples gathered in Utah in 2016 and 2017.

Norris also spent a summer in 2016 working jointly with Professor Pete Ryan and geologist and environmental scientist Jon Kim of the Vermont Geological Survey studying newly identified groundwater contamination in southwestern Vermont. He presented results of the research at conferences held by the Geological Society of America (GSA) and the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

“Whether through his thesis, independent studies, or summer work, Emmet is one of the few students in recent memory who has conducted such an array of successful geological research at Middlebury,” said Manley.

“I am honored to receive this award but mostly so grateful to the Geology Department for the opportunities to harness my curiosity to address unanswered questions in geoscience,” said Norris. “My professors have been fantastic teachers, but also mentors and guides in my life. All my experiences, from conducting field work in the Uinta Mountains to sharing my research with many audiences, have prepared me to pursue my goal of furthering our understanding of the earth’s processes.” 

Norris will spend his senior year at Utrecht University in the Netherlands studying aerosols and impacts of environmental contamination on global human health. He also plans to apply to a doctoral program in atmospheric chemistry (geochemistry) to study the movement of chemicals and contaminants through air and water and their effect on the numerous systems that control climate and life on earth.

By Sarah Ray, Photo by Robert Keren