We're excited to introduce our NEW blog series called Scholarship Success Spotlight! We will be regularly sharing stories from our talented scholarship recipients and how they are using their funds in the STEM fields.
Our first spotlight is on Britany Kulka, 3rd quarter 2018 scholarship recipient from Arizona State University. She is originally from Valley City, Ohio and moved to Tempe, Arizona after graduating high school in May 2015 to attend Arizona State University. Britany is currently a senior studying geological sciences with special interest in mineral physics, mineralogy, and material science. Here's Britany's story:
Why I Value STEM Education
My academics have always been a top priority. When I was young, I would beg my mother to let me attend school even when I was sick because I never wanted to miss out on what I could be learning. This mentality has stuck with me as I have gotten older. I applied to universities in 2015 to pursue a bachelor of science as a mathematics major due to my love of numbers and their ability to describe the world with computations. Within my first semester of college I soon discovered an interest I had never considered; geology. I remember when I decided to switch to a geology degree, I had a moment of serendipity. I soon began my journey into the geology degree and discovered how much more enthused I was with the ability to learn how to explain the world physically in more ways than just computationally.
My Current Work and Passion
In February 2018 when I was a junior, I began working in a mineral physics lab as a paid laboratory aide. My work started out with using a 1,100-ton press called a multi-anvil apparatus to synthesize the high pressures and temperatures of minerals that are within the earth’s mantle. I began using the COMPRES 14/8 assembly which consists of a 3 mm capsule that can reach up to 15 GPa and a COMPRES 10/5 assembly which consists of a 2mm capsule that can reach up to 20 GPa. To analyze the samples, I was taught how to do Raman Spectroscopy and I have created a manual on how to use the system for point analysis and a 2D scan on the sample. After I had become knowledgeable on how to use the multi-anvil I started synthesizing minerals in the COMPRES 8/3 assembly which consists of a 1 mm capsule, but the pressure was found to be inconsistent compared to the other assemblies, and this is when my project began.
My main research involves me adjusting calibrations for the COMPRES 8/3 assembly due to not being sufficiently accurate for the high-resolution phase boundary determinations in the multi-anvil press. I have conducted measurements on the bridgmanite-majorite-akimotoite triple point in MgSiO3 using the multi-anvil press with the experiments ranging from 20-22 GPa and 1600-2100 C. The triple point determined through these experiments will provide an important reference point in the pressure-temperature space for future high pressure experiments. Additionally, my work will allow mineral physicists to compare the pressure-temperature conditions measured in the multi-anvil to laser-heated diamond-anvil. Before I finish my undergrad, I plan to complete this project with a written thesis.
How I Plan To Spend My Scholarship
My scholarship is being used towards graduate school applications and the GRE. I plan on applying to at least five schools for different programs.
What This Scholarship Means to Me
I am a first generation college student. I was never pushed by my family to attend school after high school, it was all something that I wanted. My grandfather never went past the fifth-grade and here I am wanting to pursue a graduate degree soon.
Thank you for sharing your story, Britany! Your friends at G.E.M. Environmental wish you the best of luck in your educational pursuits.
Are you a STEM major? Consider applying for one of our scholarships! Our next scholarship deadline is November 23, 2018. Visit our Scholarship page to learn more about eligibility and apply online.