Welcome Incoming EARS Student, Priestaf

On July 28, 2014 by Grad Forum

priestaf_thumbnailContinuing with our series on incoming graduate students, the Graduate Forum welcomes Michael Priestaf, a new earth sciences student.

A Berkeley native and University of California, Riverside alumnus, Michael Priestaf will soon leave California for the Upper Valley to pursue an Earth Sciences master’s degree with mineralogy and geochemistry professor, Devon Renock. Priestaf’s passion for geology and natural history developed early. He is the child of two geographers who enjoyed taking frequent road trips to national parks, science museums, and geologic sites. Dinosaur footprints on a canyon wall near Moab, Utah were particularly fascinating to 12-year-old Priestaf.

When he arrived at UC Riverside as a freshman in 2009, Priestaf was undecided on his major, but the course “Earth’s Climate Through Time” inspired him to declare geology. Ironically, he did not enjoy his first course in mineralogy, but his second course, optical mineralogy, changed his outlook. Priestaf also has interests in special relativity, chemistry, and the nature of light and now views mineralogy as a discipline that unites his various scientific passions.

Since his 2013 undergraduate graduation, Priestaf has been attending field camp, acting as a teaching assistant for upper-level geology courses, and working as a junior research specialist in two geochemistry laboratories at UC Riverside. His Dartmouth project is largely to be determined, but Priestaf holds interests in acid mine drainage, water-rock interaction, and the genesis of certain types of ore deposits, namely, Nevada’s Carlin-type gold deposits.

In addition to the opportunity to work with Renock, two factors motivated Priestaf’s decision to accept Dartmouth’s offer of admission. First, Priestaf says that he has seen “lots of rocks in the Western US” and is excited to be exposed to the East Coast, which has a different petrological regime (rock type and history). Second, he is excited about the welcoming earth sciences community, the cozy feel of Hanover, and the location. An avid camper and hiker in Southern California, Priestaf is eager to check out our mountains and see how he fares with winter sports!

Welcome to Dartmouth, Michael!

by Alexandra Giese

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