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Rising From the Plains- A Geologic Companion: Geol 2220 students win 2019 Phi Beta Kappa award

August 27, 2019
McPhee Yolanda and Love
The McPhee's and Dave Love

On April 27th, 2019, a team of Phi Beta Kappa Scholars judged a series of undergraduate research presentations in order to recognize intellectual merit.

Students in GEOL 2220: Communicating Earth Sciences won the award for integration of science and the humanities with their project, “A Geologic Companion to John McPhee’s Rising from the Plains.” Their interactive web-based story map was recognized for its skillful exploration of Wyoming’s geologic heritage and development of connections between geology and human experience. Click on the picture below to go to the interactive map.

Rising From the Plains: A geologic companion

The class project built upon a well-known extended essay by John McPhee set in Wyoming. The book Rising from the Plains (1986) blends the stories of a young schoolteacher, Ethel Waxham Love, who arrived in rural Wyoming in 1905 and of her son, geologist David Love (1913-2002), together with evocative prose describing the visual impact and scientific significance of Wyoming geology.

John McPhee, Dave Love and Ethel Love

Participants in the project included geology majors Logan Fox, Henry Hoes, Jiwei Kang, Lou Mallon, Patrick Megown, and Blaire Voss. Graduate student Alex Sivitskis shared his expertise in ESRI story maps and botanist Hollis Marriott contributed expertise in writing for the general public. The class was taught by Professor Carol Frost. Each student chose a locality or geologic feature described in McPhee’s book and composed a story illustrated with maps, historical and modern photographs, figures, and graphs. Viewers choose from these sites and use the web-based application to unfold the story and dive into a greater understanding of Wyoming’s geoheritage.

The Geologists and Geology of Wyoming section of the map includes information on J.D. Love and the geologic events which caused Wyoming's mountains to rise from its plains. The Sites from Love and McPhee on the Road provide detailed glimpses into stops along their travels. 

Geol 2220 students

Spring 2019 GEOL 2220 Communicating Earth Science class, authors of “A Geologic Companion to John McPhee’s Rising from the Plains.” Back row: Prof. Carol Frost, Lou Mallon, Blaire Voss, Patrick Megown, Henry Hoes. Front row: Logan Fox, Hollis Marriott, Jiwei Kang, and Alex Sivitskis. (UW Photo)

The Phi Beta Kappa Awards for Excellence in the Liberal Arts are made possible by an endowment presented to the University of Wyoming Phi Beta Kappa chapter by Harald V. Johnson of Bensenville, Illinois. This endowment, in honor of Louise A. Lee Johnson is now used to support undergraduate students whose scholarship and research display excellence in the liberal arts. Mrs. Johnson participated in the University of Wyoming Phi Beta Kappa Chartering in its inaugural year of 1940. Today, the University of Wyoming is one of only 286 colleges and universities in America to meet the rigorous qualifications for hosting a chapter. This year, the members of the University of Wyoming Chapter are honored to be able to recognize undergraduate researchers who expertly weave together physical, intellectual, ethical and social issues in their research.

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