Katie Boyle, '10
A working trip to Tanzania wasn’t exactly what 2010 graduate Katie Boyle was expecting the summer following graduation with a major in Geophysics and minor in Applied Mathematics with honors; neither were shots for rabies, typhoid, yellow fever and malaria. But opportunity knocked – or rather, shook – and Katie answered the call.
In preparation for graduate school at Pennsylvania State University in the fall and working with Dr. Andrew Nyblade in its Department of Geosciences, Katie was asked if she’d consider starting her experience “early” by traveling to Tanzania with Dr. Nyblade to relocate seismic stations used in his research. The next year, Katie traveled solo to remove the stations in what she calls, “a learning experience.” Her studies at Penn State culminated with a thesis based on seismic noise research and a Master of Science degree in Geosciences with a concentration in seismology, and she was recruited in 2012 from Penn State by Southwestern Energy of Houston, Texas, where she is employed as a geophysicist.
Katie’s Fredonia experience prepared her well. In addition to serving as Vice President of the Student Association and on the board of directors of the Faculty Student Association, Katie conducted research for the WaterNet, operated by the Chautauqua County Department of Health Division of Environmental Health Services and SUNY Fredonia, and completed a senior thesis including a liquefaction study of the Connecticut River Valley, projects under the supervision of geosciences faculty member Dr. Michael Wilson. At Fredonia, she said she could count on caring professors, that President Dennis Hefner would know her by name, and that Dr. Wilson would make “classes fun with serious dry material…which is how I learn the best.” She also competed for and won a coveted spot in the Summer of Applied Geophysical Experience (SAGE), a unique program hosted by the National Security Education Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Katie described the experience as outstanding, noting it allowed her to learn her strengths and weaknesses in preparing for graduate school, and provided networking opportunities as well.
Perhaps the most unique experience Katie enjoyed at Fredonia arose from her participation in the university’s Honors program, in which then Vice President for Academic Affairs Virginia Horvath offered an English seminar. Knowing that she needed to enhance her skills in technical writing, Katie emailed Dr. Horvath for guidance. The outreach turned into a Directed Study which Katie described as an “awesome” experience. President Horvath was impressed with Katie’s curiosity and passion for learning, adding, “She showed the same kind of creative curiosity about writing that one expects to find in scientists, and her skills became even more advanced through this study.”
Today at Southwestern Energy, Katie is on a two-year rotational program to learn about different parts of the company’s activities in six-month increments. To date she has helped plan wells that were being drilled and conducted seismic review of the Fayetteville shale in north central Arkansas, and is now in the initial stages of studying the Marcellus shale in the company’s Appalachian division.
“I’m doing exactly what I went to school for after declaring my Geophysics major six years ago (at Fredonia),” noted Katie. She said the best part about her job is, “I feel like I’m trusted here. People take me seriously and trust in my knowledge.”