Launching into Graduate School

Undergraduate research experience paves the way for geology alum’s grad school success.

Gina Pope just became Dr. Pope. And she credits her experience in the SUNY Brockport geology program as a primary reason why.

Pope recently earned her PhD in geoscience from Temple University. This came after earning a master’s degree in geology at Baylor University. Pope’s classmates in both programs came from some of the most prestigious private universities in the country. But Pope felt better prepared than all of them — thanks to the capstone project she completed at Brockport.

“I can’t tell you how far ahead that capstone project put me,” Pope said.

She tells a story of how surprised her Baylor thesis advisor was that Pope already knew how to write a master’s proposal. No other students in her cohort did.

“What makes Brockport’s geology program interesting is that it’s undergrad focused. That means undergrads get to do research – I mean actual research,” she said. “When you’re at a big research institution, the grad students are the ones doing the research.”

Pope began doing research the summer after her freshman year at Brockport. She teamed with a professor to analyze soil from a Rochester home for lead. The owner had a six month old baby and was concerned about exposing the child to lead.

“I got to do field work and then analyze it in the lab,” Pope said. “Plus, I was actually able to help this woman out in a community I live in. I was able to make a difference.”

Pope’s next goal is to teach. She’s hoping to land at an affordably-priced undergraduate focused institution.

“I want to give students the same opportunities I had,” Pope said.

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Posted: June 10, 2022