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Jennifer Peteya to Intern in Mongolia through the Keck Geology Consortium

May 18, 2010

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Jennifer Peteya is an art and geology majorJennifer Peteya, a senior geology and art major at Mount Union College, is preparing to spend her summer abroad studying geological history from hundreds of millions of years ago in central Asia.

Peteya’s eagerness for a summer internship developed when geology professors Dr. Lee Gray and Dr. Mark McNaught directed her to the website of Keck Geology Consortium, an independent organization with opportunities for high-quality undergraduate research.

“When I read ‘Mongolia’ and ‘paleontology’ on the site’s project list, I knew I had to go for it.  Mongolia is very much a paleontologist’s dream location,” Peteya explained.

Peteya was accepted, along with seven other American students and several students from the Mongolian Technical University, to participate in the project, which is called "Paleobiogeographic Reconstruction of the Gobi-Altai Terrane, Mongolia.”   

Each participant will be working on a different project in order to contribute to the groups’ common goal of furthering scientific understanding of Mongolia’s ancient creatures, as well as reconstruct its tectonic history.  While some participants will be looking at the paleontology, stratigraphy, paleoecology, and sedimentology of the area, Peteya’s focus will be on a specific group of fossils.    

“From the samples I collect, I will be determining species’ abundance and age, and attempting to figure out various aspects concerning their evolution,” Peteya explained.

Beginning in the middle of July, the group will conduct three weeks of field work in the Gobi Desert and then end with three days of overland travel from Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar.  Peteya will then return to Mount Union to finalize data collection and analysis.

A career in paleontology, a branch of geology, has been a dream of Peteya’s since she was little.  She realized she wanted to study art as well when she found herself wanting to draw dinosaurs in all of her art classes during high school.  

Jennifer Peteya“I have had a lot of dinosaur and fossil books in my lifetime and have always loved looking at the pictures in them,” Peteya said, “but I never appreciated how much work had to be put into them until I took five art classes in four years of high school.” 

Peteya knew she wanted to attend Mount Union when she first set foot in Bracy Science Hall during her senior year at Hoover high school.  The workshop for her Science Experimental Research Program class was held in Bracy.  This workshop allowed high school students to work on experiments and then present them at various science fairs. 

Peteya’s education at Mount Union has contributed to the confidence she has for her experience on this trip, as well as for her future.  

“My geology classes have really helped me understand more about what I may later be doing in a field or laboratory setting,” Peteya said.  “And my art classes have helped me understand more of the basic concepts of art and how to make the drawings and paintings I create in the future look better and more realistic.”

Peteya is involved on campus as the vice president of Geology Club, treasurer of CHOICES, vice president of Anime Club, a member of Kappa Pi (the art honors fraternity), a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, and a member of Raider Programming Board.

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