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Geology students present at national conference

Maggie.jpgA Morehead State University geology student has won top honors at a professional conference.

The Geobiology and Geomicrobiology (GBGM) Division of the Geological Society of America (GSA) announced winners of its 2018 student presentation awards on Nov. 19. The awards are for best student oral presentation and best student poster presentation at the recent GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Maggie Stephenson, a sophomore geology major from Sanders, Kentucky, won best poster presentation for her poster, entitled "From Palm Savannahs to Hardwood Hammocks and Back: Palynology of the Paleocene-Eocene Manawianui Drive Section, Bastrop County, Texas."

Stephenson’s research has concentrated on a paleoecological study of rocks deposited in a series of coastal and offshore environments preserved in Central Texas. This area is important because the rocks were deposited before, during and after the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a roughly 100,000-year time period of rapid climate and sea-level change that happened a little more than 55 million years ago. The PETM is often used as a possible analog for current climate change. Stephenson demonstrated that ecosystems can be better identified using a combination of fossil fungal communities and plant pollen and spores than with pollen and spores alone. She has also demonstrated that coastal plant communities in Texas at this time changed in much the same way as similar-aged coastal plant communities preserved in England and the North Sea.

This poster represents Stephenson’s work as an MSU Undergraduate Research Fellow in paleoecology (the study of ancient ecosystems) in academic year 2017-2018, which has continued as part of her geology coursework for Fall 2019. An earlier version was presented at the 2018 Celebration of Student Scholarship.

Stephenson was among six MSU students to present posters of their undergraduate research at the GSA Annual Meeting. They included:

Ashton Killen, a sophomore from Proctorville, Ohio. "Palynology of the Hooper Formation (Paleocene), Wilcox Group, Bastrop County, TX: A Preliminary Study."

Kala Brown, a senior from Lexington, and Eli Martin III, a senior from Ashland. "Volcanic Ash in the Hooper Formation (Paleocene), Wilcox Group: A Preliminary Report."

Sara Olmsted, a Craft Academy senior from Madison Count; Lucy Steiner, a Craft Academy senior from Bourbon County; and Maggie Stephenson, a sophomore from Sanders. "Palynology of Pleistocene and Holocene Sediment Core BBL 3, Big Bone Lick, Kentucky."

For more information about the geology program at MSU, visit or call 606-783-2381.
Top Photo: Morehead State University students with GSA President Robbie Gries. From Left to Right: Ashton Killen, Maggie Stephenson, Lucy Steiner, Gries, Kala Brown, Sara Olmsted and Eli Martin III.

Inset Photo: Maggie Stephenson with her award-winning poster.