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Student Geologist on the Hunt for Earthquake Faults in Thailand

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Jazmine Titular, right, and research partner Amanda Shellhorn, left,  participated in the Science and Math Research in Thailand program, at Chiang Mai University with their Thai peers.

Senior Jazmine Titular's favorite things about conducting research in Thailand this summer included working side-by-side with Thai faculty researchers, visiting the age-old "Doi Suthep" temple, eating khoa soi and even the sudden downpours.

The geology major was among eight California State University students who spent six weeks at Chiang Mai University as part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (L.S.A.M.P.) program. The program's goal is to increase the number of underrepresented students who graduate with degrees in the S.T.E.M. — sciences, technology, engineering or math — disciplines.

Joining the L.S.A.M.P. students were 11 C.S.U.F. students who participated in research activities through the Science and Math Research in Thailand (S.M.R.T.) program, funded by Associated Students Inc. Christina A. Goode, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, co-directed L.S.A.M.P. and led the S.M.R.T. program.

The undergraduates worked together on such projects as the conservation of medicinal plant habitats, HIV treatments and the socioeconomic influences on rice cultivation practices. Titular shares her thoughts on the experience.

What was your research project?
My project involved taking a gravity survey across the western area of the Chiang Mai Basin — in hopes of locating two earthquake faults. I had the opportunity to use an instrument, called a gravimeter, to obtain specific gravity readings of rocks below the surface to locate the proposed faults. I learned new research techniques under a very knowledgeable Thai research adviser, who taught me how to approach scientific problems, the best way to way to collect accurate data and how to properly interpret results.

What did you enjoy most about doing research abroad?
The best part was learning the differences and similarities that we have with other cultures, in regards to research. The research I did with my Thai lab partner is very similar to the project I am working on for my senior thesis. It's nice to see how science is universal across the world and that research is similar no matter where you go.

Any highlights about your fieldwork?
My research required me to be in the field all day for several weeks. Because the weather is very unpredictable, it caused problems for my team because the instrument we used is very sensitive to extreme heat, as well as water. We were constantly jumping in and out of the car to avoid the heat and rain and always had to use an umbrella to protect the instrument. We also drove on very narrow paths in the city and through vegetation-filled mountainsides. We got stuck in the mud and the car also overheated multiple times, which all made for an interesting experience.

What did you enjoy about Thailand?
The culture in Thailand is beyond amazing. Thai people are the nicest, most sincere group of people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and knowing. They are extremely hospitable, kind and respectful. I also enjoyed trying so many new foods and even learned to speak some Thai.

What are the benefits of doing research abroad?
I highly encourage students to do a research program abroad. The things I learned and the experiences I had were life changing. It sparked a fire within me to continue doing research and go onto graduate school. I realized that the possibilities for my future are endless and obtainable with the right mindset. It was an incredible experience. As a L.S.A.M.P. research scholar, Titular works on campus with Phillip Armstrong, chair and professor of geological sciences, on research to determine if an area in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is part of an earthquake fault system. She also is serving as president of the Geology Club.