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COSAM Faculty Focus – Geochemistry Lecturer Dr. Brennan van Alderwerelt

Published: 07/02/2019

By: Maria Gebhardt

Since January 2019, Dr. Brennan van Alderwerelt has been a lecturer in the Department of Geosciences at the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) with a specialization in applied geochemistry.

This native of the west coast grew up on the beaches and in the mountains of Northern California and Oregon. He earned his bachelor degree in physics at the University of California Davis, then pursued his doctorate degree in at the University of Iowa in Earth and Environmental Sciences.

“Physics gave me a perspective of the world founded on fundamental natural laws, then I migrated over to the Earth sciences seeking a way to connect with nature more tangibly,” Dr. van Alderwerelt shared.

As an undergraduate student, he studied planetary geology and stellar astrophysics. He then secured a position at the California Department of Water and found a genuine excitement in the field of earth science.

“Since I was eight-years old, I knew I didn’t want to work in a cubicle farm,” he said. “I knew I could make a real difference through research in labs, field work and outreach programs.”

While he was working on his doctorate degree, he became personally involved with geochemistry. He worked in the field and the lab on several “odd” volcanoes in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Balancing traditional and modern techniques, Dr. van Alderwerelt focused on chemistry paired with geological studies.

He brought his passion for earth science into the classroom at Auburn University.

“I sincerely enjoy connecting with students,” he added. “One of the best ways to become better in the classroom, is to push yourself to become a better geologist.”

Although Auburn is very different than the west coast, Dr. van Alderwerelt has been impressed with the beautiful forests of Alabama and how international students feel welcomed in this vibrant college town.

“In COSAM, I see the commitment to welcoming diverse students from around the globe,” he explained. “I think it is great to see how the array of international cultures here complement each other and increase opportunities for new experiences for everyone.”

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