Carving out a new career path, thanks to geosciences professor

Madalyn Borek

HOMETOWN: Lockport, N.Y.
MAJOR: Geosciences
MINOR: Biological Sciences
PROFESSOR: John Garver, Geosciences

Madalyn Borek and John Garver

Madalyn Borek had always been intrigued by medicine, and so she entered Union on a pre-med track. Come spring term of her first year, however, she discovered another, untapped passion.

“I took my first college geosciences course, Natural Disasters, with Professor John Garver. He opened my eyes to a whole other world of science,” Madalyn says.

During one field study with her class, Madalyn found herself ankle deep in the mud at a local park on the Mohawk River, studying ice jam floods and their impact on the community.

“Not only did the research tell a story of past natural events that wiped out the historic Stockade District in downtown Schenectady, but it also reassured the importance of structural planning and preventative building of property at the base flood elevation,” Madalyn says.

“I was so fascinated by the data we discovered that I decided to switch my studies to geosciences.”

Inspiring research

Madalyn continues to be impressed by “seeing and hearing about all that Professor Garver has done in his field. He has spent many years conducting research in and around Alaska, giving him a depth of knowledge in tectonics and seismicity,” she says. “His repeated trips have provided him with substantial evidence to articulate and publish groundbreaking hypotheses regarding Alaskan tectonics.”

And despite her immersion in geosciences, Madalyn hasn’t let her first love, medicine, slide.

In addition to being a Biological Sciences minor, she incorporates her interest in the health field in other ways. For instance, she is a campus ambassador for the Gift of Life, an organization that allows people to become a part of the national bone marrow registry.

Bedrock of support

Madalyn’s term abroad in Australia her junior year will give her even more hands-on experience in biology and geology research.

“I’m very excited to be going abroad with my biology professor and adviser, Nicole Theodosiou,” Madalyn says. "I took her Physiology of Cells and Organisms class.

“I also appreciate the guidance I’ve received from John Cramsie in the History Department. He taught my first-year preceptorial on the socioeconomics of U.S. higher education and has helped me with references and applications. And I’ve become close with Kate Schurick, dean of first-year students, in my role as an orientation adviser. All have helped provide me with a sense of home and community.

“It’s great that faculty and staff are so accessible. The relationships I’ve formed are crucial to my undergraduate success.”

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