EES Grad Students


The University of Kentucky's Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences gives its graduate students the chance to explore a wide swath of the geosciences that take them many divergent routes but, in the end, they're all at home in EES.


Lucas Rohrer is from Princeton, Kentucky, and received a B.A. in Chemistry from Asbury University.  Lucas received a 2012 Geological Society of America Student Research Grant for his M.S. thesis research on the evolution of the Appalachian mountains of the northeastern U.S. Lucas's research involves a lot of field work (i.e., hiking) in the woods of central Massachusetts. Like many geologists, the field work is what Lucas finds particularly stimulating.

Although he was a chemistry major as an undergraduate, Lucas was inspired to pursue a graduate degree in Geology by a professor at Asbury University who took him on an 11-day mountaineering experience in the Rocky Mountains after finishing his B.A. It turns out chemistry is a particularly useful major for a geology graduate student, as many geologists are 'geochemists', who apply chemical principles to rocks and minerals...which are simply naturally occurring chemical compounds. Lucas's chemistry background will be put to use in geochronologic analysis of rocks from his field area.


Second year master’s student Sara Federschmidt is originally from Fleming Island, Florida. She graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois in 2011 with a B.S. in Geology and moved to Lexington to pursue a Master’s degree in Neotectonics. Sara has been awarded the John T. Dillon Alaska Research Award from the Geological Society of America, the Don Richter Memorial Scholarship from the Alaska Geological Society, and a research fellowship from Denali National Park in order to fund her research on the Hines Creek fault in Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska.

This past summer, Sara traveled to the park to conduct her field research along the fault line. This included mapping river terraces, digging paleoseismic trenches across coseismic fissures, and taking radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence, and cosmogenic radionuclide dating samples. Through her research, Sara is aiming to determine the prehistoric earthquake history, slip rate, and neotectonic framework of the Hines Creek Fault. The DOT is currently making plans to build a new bridge on the Parks Highway across the Hines Creek Fault and data from Sara’s research will help them in constructing the bridge properly.


Nicholas Paul Levitt graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004 with a B.S. in Chemistry and in 2007 with an M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences. Nicholas moved to Lexington, Kentucky to work as an environmental consultant and began taking geology classes part time in 2009. He is currently working toward a doctoral degree in geology and supported by a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. The purpose of NASA Fellowship program is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA’s scientific goals - including:

  • Study planet Earth from space to advance scientific understanding and meet societal needs;
  • Understand the Sun and its effects on Earth and the solar system;
  • Advance scientific knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar system, the potential for life elsewhere, and the hazards and resources present as humans explore space; and
  • Discover the origin, structure, evolution, and destiny of the universe and search for Earth-like planets.
His dissertation projection is an extension of this. His experimental methods will facilitate the reconciliation of experimental and theoretical studies, allow for more accurate reconstruction of environmental conditions using clumped isotope geochemistry, and enhance understanding of vital effects stored in biogenic carbonates carbon and oxygen isotope anomalies.
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