Student Spotlight: Emilie Casey

Emilie Casey came to UMaine planning to focus on geology, but after connecting with one of their professors, glaciology is becoming a much larger part of their academic life. “I came to UMaine with a bright passion for Earth Sciences, eager to use my resources and apply myself. I think my professor picked up on that. She came to me with the opportunity and guided me through writing a CUGR grant about her ongoing research in Uganda. I didn’t know much, but the glaciers were fascinating and my professor’s passion for it was contagious.”

Casey’s research is focused on tropical glaciers present during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), about 25,000 years ago. “Using moraine and elevation data collected from the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda, I create visual models to recreate the ancient glaciers. From there, I can extract pertinent information relating to mass balance and freeze levels, which is the elevation at which glaciers start to either freeze or melt.” The data Casey gets from the models provides information about the climate at the time, which will expand our understanding of tropical ice age behavior. “When compared against mid-latitude ice age data, we will understand climate change and how it interacts on a global scale.”

Casey says that the help of faculty mentor, Dr. Alice Doughty, has been invaluable. “Dr. Doughty is an excellent teacher, my experience wouldn’t be the same without her. I am new to coding, but with her guidance and patience I have really gotten a grasp on the concepts and I’m finding a lot of fun in it. It is also amazing having a direct resource to work with me through everything, she seems like a genius at times with her problem-solving abilities. With her support, I am fully prepared to continue my research career.”

Casey’s advice to students thinking about getting involved with research: “just go for it. […] If you apply yourself, there is so much to learn in every corner of research, so many skills that are invaluable in the field. I can say with confidence that this research opportunity is one of those things that will butterfly-effect the rest of my life, and I’m so excited to see what comes.”