Rodzinyak completes range of geology research projects

By the end of her junior year, Kristyn Rodzinyak had participated in three significant research projects and presented her findings at several professional conferences.

Kristyn Rodzinyak
Kristyn Rodzinyak: "Cornell really promotes early, independent research. Getting the chance to go off to a research university for a block and get hands-on lab work so early in my undergraduate degree was a great opportunity to prepare me for, and introduce me to, graduate research."


Most recently, Rodzinyak traveled to Western Australia with Professor Ben Greenstein to investigate the geologic record of rapid sea level change preserved in fossil coral assemblages in the northwest part of the state. She will next conduct geochemical analyses on fossil corals she collected in order to determine the timing of the abrupt sea level changes.

Rodzinyak, a geology and chemistry major from  Colorado Springs, CO, had previously spent a block at the University of New Mexico studying stalagmites from Western Australia. Working with Cornell professor Rhawn Denniston, she performed uranium-thorium dating using thermal-ionization mass spectrometry, concluding that samples from the Holocene epoch grew in a wetter climate than those from the Pleistocene.

And she spent the summer of 2007 at the University of Minnesota modeling the movement of molten material from the planetary core to the surface. She and other students created their own rock samples from olivine, mid-ocean ridge basalt and chromite to model rocks in the Earth’s mantle and then deformed them at high pressures and temperatures.

Rodzinyak says a highlight of her work in Minnesota was presenting her results to the Iowa Academy of Sciences and at a regional meeting of the Geological Society of America.

“It was so great to get feedback from other scientists and have a chance to explain the project,” she says. “It was also really flattering since a lot of people thought that I was a graduate student with the level of research I was doing. I will also be presenting at an international space conference this summer (2008) in Montreal.”

Rodzinyak also enjoys the many off-campus opportunities at Cornell. In addition to class in the Bahamas and numerous smaller class outings, she’s also traveled to a variety of locations with the Geology Club, including Death Valley, Big Bend National Park in Texas, and Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa.