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Margariete Malenda

Major: Geology
Class of 2017

by Bethany Bonner '15

The buzz of energy surging through the geology program in the Department of Physical Sciences is enthralling.  Margariete Malenda needed to be a part of it. malenda

With steadfast eagerness and curiosity, it was not long before Malenda went from investigating in labs to presenting research findings at major seminars. As a junior undergraduate student, Malenda has been heavily involved in research, which drew the enthusiastic praise of professional geoscientists and academics from all over the world recently at a conference in Vancouver. Malenda's success proves that Kutztown University students can brilliantly shine at any educational level or program of study. 

Malenda decided to major in geology after exploring a few areas of study.  In the presence of enthusiastic professors and students, she is thrilled to have discovered her niche in the university environment. "I could see the excitement in the department. This is exactly the stimulating environment I wanted." More specifically, she says, "I got into geology because I saw how supportive, reliable, and how proactive with communication all of the faculty are. I also saw that the students in the program were focused and driven. I liked knowing that students in the geology program are extremely involved in faculty research, and I enjoyed how welcoming the professors and other students are, and how much it feels like a family."

The professors have a wealth of experience, she adds, having traveled and done studies within the United States and internationally.

The different combinations of scientific disciplines in the geology major were also alluring. "What I like about geology is it involves taking chemistry classes, physics classes, and geography classes - it is so well-rounded. It helps you understand your field. I've really learned to appreciate how gorgeous science is. Everything fits together." Crystallography and mineralogy are two subfields of geology that the junior has developed a keen interest.

Malenda so far has attended three Geological Society of America (GSA) conferences during her time at Kutztown. In fall 2013, she traveled to Denver, Colorado for her first GSA conference. She attended geoscience discussions, shook hands with professionals in the field, mingled with students from throughout the United States, and became affiliated with multiple geoscience organizations. After presenting research she had done with Dr. Edward Simpson and Dr. Kurt Friehauf, Malenda knew she was trekking the path she was meant to be on.

"I felt more confident in my work, and knew that research was something I wanted to continue. This was also my initial experience to see firsthand an entire community centered on such a fascinating field of study. I was reassured that if studying this field, I would always have this community of highly educated and motivated individuals to be a part of."

In the spring of 2014, Malenda attended the GSA Northeastern conference in Lancaster, PA where she was able to support her peers and their research. The conference allowed her to again connect with professionals of local industry, academia, and geoscience societies.

In October 2014, Malenda flew to Vancouver for what she calls an "unforgettable week" in which she truly felt herself growing into a professional. It was here, at the International GSA conference, that she was able to present the research she had worked on with Dr. Friehauf. The research involved analyzing copper deposits Dr. Friehauf had gathered from a trip to southern Namibia.

"I received feedback from the men and women who spearhead my fields of interest. I met potential graduate school advisors and collaborators at the conference, and at private society socials. After making these connections, and opening up opportunities for future collaborations, I feel more confident than ever in my future within geology. All of these experiences have been possible because of the support of my professors and peers at Kutztown University."

Malenda is personally motivated to do more than simply attend classes. She serves as a Supplemental Instructor for Geology courses and some others and is actively involved in research, the Physics Club and the Geology Club. She hopes to one day participate in research involving hydrogeology and the field of geochemistry. Whatever she ends up doing as a career, whether it is investigating illness-causing contaminants in water or discovering Earth resources that can be beneficial to us, Malenda wants her work to relate back to people. She seeks a better understanding of the relationship of the physical makeup of Earth and how humans utilize it.

During her time here at Kutztown, Malenda has unearthed a hidden passion, geology, she might not have otherwise found had she not ventured out of her comfort zone. She encourages taking a semester to discover likes and dislikes, and possibly talents and passions not yet discovered. "Take your time figuring out what you want. Your school experience won't be productive until you are committed to something you want. Be curious; be open-minded to all subjects and to your professors and peers. Make the most of the experience. Enjoy it."

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