Kara Brugman

Job title and company

Research Assistant, PhD Candidate in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University


PhD Geological Sciences (expected May 2019), Arizona State University, B.A. Geological Sciences (minor: Astrophysical and Planetary Science), University of Colorado, Boulder B.S. Radio/TV/Film Production, Northwestern University

What do you do?

I use individual microscopic layered mineral crystals from Yellowstone to figure out the timescales between events that remobilize magma inside a volcano, and when that magma erupts. I also use computer models and petrologic experiments to learn what magmas could be produced on exoplanets.

What is your favorite part about your job?

As a PhD candidate, I have a lot of freedom to learn about whatever interests me in my field, or those related to it. I am working on four projects, so every day is different! I get to do field work at Yellowstone National Park, as well as make pockets of magma in the hydraulic piston-cylinder presses in our lab.

What inspired you to enter into your field?

I’ve always been interested in rocks for aesthetic reasons, but then I found out that when you look at a big outcrop of rock, you’re actually looking into the past! To study geology is to travel in time as well as to places you could never see first-hand, like inside a volcano or into the depths of the Earth.