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Professor uses deep-sea core research to work with students

Kristen St. John, Furman Class of 1992. JMU Department of Geology & Environmental Science. Photo by Alyssa Antonio/The Breeze.

Being tossed about by 115 mph winds and 60-foot waves aboard a research vessel didn’t deter Kristen St. John from pursuing a career in geological sciences. The Furman Class of 1992 international relations/political science major-turned-geology and environmental science professor was featured in The Breeze, the student-run newspaper of James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.). St. John said when she enrolled at Furman in 1988, she got hooked on the field after taking a geology class to fulfill her GenEd science requirement. Now she spends a lot of time on ships collecting deep-sea core samples as a sedimentologist for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).

Her work uncovers information about past climate and climate change, and the ocean floor core samples she acquires through IODP are used by St. John’s students as well as in other programs. Said St. John, “The ocean gives, often, very detailed and complete stories, like an encyclopedia, you just have to know how to read it.”

Reflecting on her own vocational story, St. John said, “… everybody finds their right major, sometimes it’s not what you planned, but it’s some GenEd class that really got you interested.”

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