Professor, Student Experience Field School in Africa

DUBOIS – Penn State DuBois Associate Professor of Mathematics and Geosciences Rick Brazier had the unique opportunity to teach geology in Africa this year.  Penn State DuBois student Mike Yamrick also had the exceptional opportunity to be one of the students in Brazier’s field school. 

The eight week long AfricaArray field school was based out of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Africa.  There were 25 students in all, including Yamrick from Penn State DuBois, and four students from other universities in the United States.  The rest of the students were from different locations on the African continent.   

Brazier and the students spent a week at the university designing their field project before heading out to a remote bush camp where they collected and interpreted geophysical data for the project. The goal of this undertaking was to collect geophysical data to benefit Africa’s economy and society, as well as to understand the geology of the continent.

The students from the U.S. made formal project presentations on their work at University Park.  Brazier is scheduled to present a portion of his work during the Natural Resources Colloquium at Penn State DuBois on April 30. 

“This experience for the students was not only academically beneficial but life changing,” Brazier said, adding that bringing different cultures together within the school had a lasting impact as well.  “The cultural diversity aspect of this program is truly eye opening.”

Yamrick said the experience helped him to decide that seismology is what he will concentrate on in his career. “The field school in Africa was awesome. I found what I am truly interested in, and what I would love to make a career out of,” he said.  Yamrick also noted that the diverse group in the school made an impression on him as well.  “The field school was a very interesting experience. I got to meet people from a totally different culture, and work with some of the most qualified professors in the world.”

AfricaArray is a partnership between Penn State University, Witwatersrand University, and the Council of Geosciences in Pretoria, South Africa.

Steve Harmic, Penn State DuBois

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