Gwen Williams Prize 2021-2022 Recipients

Kristin Rabosky & Elizabeth Balgord

This was a collaborative project between Kristin Rabosky in the Physics Department and Elizabeth Balgord in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences (EES). The goal of the project was to purchase equipment and develop protocol to complete mineral separation (specifically the mineral zircon which is an ideal geologic clock) and imaging facilities in shared lab spaces within the Tracy Hall Science Center. Faculty and students in the EES Department have collected zircon-bearing rock samples to determine geologic histories of mountain belts. To determine the history of a sample, individual zircon grains must first be separated, and then imaged to evaluate growth increments recorded in different layers having distinct trace elemental signatures. The project outcomes included the following:

  • Developed a technique for generating publication-quality CL images at WSU, so we now don’t have to pay outside labs (saving Balgord and her students $5500-$8250 annually)
  • Preliminary data was used to produce an NSF-Earth Science Instrumentation and Facilities proposal submitted by both Balgord and Rabosky
  • Six undergraduates worked collaboratively on this project, three in physics and three in EES
  • Three abstracts with a combined seven student authors have been or will be presented at national and regional Physics and Geology conferences between 2020 and 2022.
  • A forthcoming publication coauthored by Rabosky and Balgord is to be submitted in 2022