Natalie Bursztyn, Physical Sciences Tutor (Geology), explains what makes geology so fascinating and tells us how she found her way to Quest.
You’ve been here a year, and students rave about your classes! How did you end up at Quest?
I was teaching in California, when a friend of mine told me about Quest. I emailed Dr. Helfand immediately. Astoundingly, he replied! Unfortunately for me, my awesome colleague Dr. Steve Quane had just been hired, and I didn’t have a PhD yet. So I set about getting one. Eight years, a doctorate, and two job changes later…here I am!
Best teaching moment so far?
The rainiest and soggiest Cornerstone Adventure Pursuits ever, or the Scablands field trip in Geomorphology. The students recognized the enormity of the landscape, and I watched their minds get blown. Or the lightbulb moment in Earth-Oceans-Space, when students realized the Incas could predict El Nino using the stars… There have been great moments in all my classes! How can I choose?
What’s the best thing about teaching geology?
Geology is everything! It is everywhere! It encompasses physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics—and it applies it all to the natural world. Geology is history too. It’s storytelling, it’s art, problem-solving and puzzles. It’s logic. It’s the unknown and endless questions. For me, teaching geology is teaching my students to get comfortable with not knowing the “right” answer; to appreciate the vastness of time, the processes at work on our planet that are beyond human efforts to control, the inevitable demise of our and other species… Also, rocks are pretty neat.
Working on anything cool at the moment?
Our roadside geology digital tour of Yosemite should be published this spring. I have a couple of students in California I’m still working with remotely. One is wrapping up her thesis on a series of analog models of geologic processes, and the other is doing research on teaching using 3D printed models of geologic structures. I am also designing a knit ophiolite sequence and writing an interactive fiction knitting pattern that communicates environmental impacts in our protected parklands.
What’s your favourite thing about Squamish?
Every day is a beautiful day! And I am here. Finally.