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Geoscience graduate student awarded GSA research grant for project in Ethiopia

Geoscience graduate student awarded GSA research grant for project in Ethiopia

Shelby Bowden, a WKU Geoscience graduate student from Greenville, South Carolina, has been awarded the prestigious 2017 Graduate Student Research Grant ($1,775) from the Geological Society of America (GSA) for his master’s thesis project in Ethiopia.

Bowden is the first Geoscience student from WKU Department of Geography and Geology to receive the GSA grant for geological research in an African country.

The GSA graduate research grant is one of the more highly competitive research grants, with a success rate of less than 50 percent. The primary objective of this grant is to partially support graduate students’ master’s and doctoral thesis research in the geological sciences. Each year, the grant is awarded to graduate students who are enrolled in universities in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, based on the overall quality and merit of their research proposals.

Bowden is working with his advisor, Dr. Nahid Gani, an assistant professor of geology in the Department of Geography and Geology, on Dr. Gani’s American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund grant-supported pilot project. This project aims to address the complex geologic controls of erosion and uplift history of the poorly studied Ethiopian Plateau, situated within the longest continental rift on Earth, the East African Rift system, as well as the plateau’s potential connection to past climate events. The pilot project will be instrumental for preliminary data acquisition to obtain extramural funding.

Bowden will be conducting extensive two- to three-week-long geological fieldwork this summer on the Ethiopian Plateau. He will be collecting various metamorphic and sedimentary rock samples for thermochronologic dating and mapping detailed geologic structures to constrain the geologic time of plateau erosion. This research will allow him to experience various cutting-edge tools and techniques, and familiarize him with the geology of remote localities in Ethiopia.

Bowden, who is completing his first semester at WKU, has applied for four different research grants at various external and internal organizations and has been awarded a total of $3,775 for conducting this research.

“Shelby continues to use his motivation and passion to create opportunities for further success in his graduate studies,” Dr. Gani said.

Contact: Dr. Nahid Gani at

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 Last Modified 3/6/17