Geoscience rocks: Geological Society at Baylor shares passion through mineral sale

Members of the Geological Society shared their love for rocks and minerals by hosting a sale Monday. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

By Sarah Gallaher | Staff Writer

For the department of geosciences, rock collecting is more than just a fun hobby — it’s a career. On Monday, members of the Geological Society at Baylor shared their love for the field with others by hosting a rock and mineral sale at the Baylor Sciences Building.

The collections of rocks and minerals available for purchase were gathered by professors and students in the department while conducting fieldwork. Others came from collectors who donated them to the department. President Tyler Dowdy, a third-year Ph.D. candidate from Oak Ridge, Tenn., said the organization has sold rocks and minerals in the past, but this year’s sale was the most successful.

“We do different fundraisers and events for the club to help try and boost membership, not only for the club but for students in the department,” Dowdy said. “[We] try to bring other students and graduate students together to kind of increase the community and feel like they can share their interest in geology.”

The proceeds from the sale fund a variety of events held throughout the year, such as the annual Halloween and Christmas parties. The Geological Society also takes undergraduate and graduate students from the department on a field trip each spring. Most recently, the club traveled to North Padre Island in South Texas and surveyed shoreline processes firsthand.

Vice President Venanzio Munyaka, a third-year Ph.D. candidate from Kenya, said students studying geosciences have a variety of interests and intended careers. This includes geologists, paleontologists, hydrogeologists and more. Each field is distinct in its own way, though they all have commonalities.

Furthermore, Munyaka said graduate students in the Geological Society often have different motivations compared to undergraduate students. Graduate students who already know the basics tend to focus more on their individual research, while undergraduate students have a wider range of interests.

“Talking to a couple of undergrads, what interests them most is they want to know about the processes and how everything is forming,” Munyaka said.

Students have a variety of reasons for pursuing a degree in geosciences. For some, a childhood rock collection or a fascination with a nearby mountain range might spark a lifelong interest. For others like Dowdy, they did not discover their passion until later in life.

Dowdy did not intend to pursue a career in geosciences, but after taking geology classes during his undergraduate years, he decided to pursue his passion.

“I didn’t really think about geology as a major or career field, but I was always outdoorsy and I always appreciated those processes,” Dowdy said. “I just always thought rocks were cool.”

Rocks and minerals are a common interest among most students in the department of geosciences, likely contributing to the success of the sale. However, Munyaka said the social aspect of the club can be just as important as the educational aspect.

“It doesn’t have to be mineral sales and everything,” Munyaka said. “It can also be a fun club where people can get together.”

The Geological Society seeks to establish meaningful connections between students and faculty. Through its Undergraduate Mentor Program, the Geological Society pairs graduate students with undergraduate students to help them with networking, research, graduate school applications and general academic advice.

For those outside the geosciences, something as simple as purchasing a rock from the sale could lead to academic inquiry and an interest in the field.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize what they can do with geology and the umbrella of disciplines,” Dowdy said. “There’s a lot of different things you can do, and it just starts with appreciating nature, rocks and formations.”

Sarah Gallaher is a sophomore from Seattle, Washington majoring in public relations with a minor in political science. During her first year on the Lariat staff, she hopes to help inform her fellow students about things happening on campus. Sarah plans to return to Seattle after graduation to pursue a career in corporate public relations.