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.
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.
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.