Stephanie Aiken

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I am currently an undergraduate student at Arizona State University. I am studying Geology with an interest focused on geoarchaeology. I am graduating at the end of 2015 and plan to go to graduate school in 2016. I would love to study how geology affected early human evolution or Homo Floresiensis, an island species found on the island of Flores that lived nearly 17,000 years ago. There are unanswered questions about how this species arrived on the island of Flores in Indonesia as well as why they died out. These questions can be answered by studying the geology of this area.

I grew up in Arizona, moving around from home to home, but Phoenix has always been prominent. I have always been interesting in geology, even before I knew what geology was. As a child, I would look at the tafoni of Papago Park and ask my mother why that mountain looked like Swiss cheese. I would play outside and question how all the mountains got to where they were and why each one was different. I would come home from playing with my pockets filled with rocks and I would try to figure out why they all looked the way they did. I began to watch every documentary I could find on geology with an interest developing quickly into volcanoes and seismology. As I started my college career, I did not know what I wanted to do, so I took a business track which interested me. I took my general science class at Mesa Community College; Geology 101 with Joanna Scheffler. She was enthusiastic and warm. My passion for geology was instantly reignited. I realized I could be a geologist. I got my Associate’s degree in business, but I pursued a geology track at ASU for my Bachelor's. It wasn't until I took a human evolution course as an elective that I decided what I wanted to study for my life. Volcanoes and seismology are still a passion I hold, but I am far more driven to know how the ever changing dynamic Earth helped shape us.

I am currently working on a research project with geomorphologist Kelin Whipple to study the hypothesis that Papago Park, the head of Camelback Mountain and Tempe Butte are all part of the same paleo alluvial fan structure. I am receiving help in this endeavor from Ramon Arrowsmith and Steve Reynolds. This project will require several hours of field work, data analysis, and computer modeling. I am excited to see how this project unfolds.