Geology Major Does Undergraduate Research on Luminescence Dating

Victoria Castle — the URECA Researcher of the Month for November — is a geology major who has been doing research since January 2023 under the mentorship of Marine Frouin, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences, on luminescence dating. The opportunity to participate in full-time research this past summer was made possible through a Velay Fellowship award funded by the Panaphil Foundation. The overall goal of Castle’s research in the luminescence dating lab is to learn more about the chronology of alluvial deposits sampled from two terraces left by the Udorka River near Perspektywiczna Cave and is part of an international, interdisciplinary project investigating early human history and environmental changes during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in southern Poland. 

Castle’s presentation on “Luminescence dating of terrace development in the Udorka Valley, Poland” at the Geological Society of America/GSA Connects 2023 meeting in Pittsburgh, PA was supported by an ERG/Expanding Representation in Geosciences scholarship from the Geological Society of America and a URECA mini-grant. 

Castle shared some of the benefits of being involved in undergraduate research: “I feel I am way more prepared for grad school, having done undergraduate research, than I would have been if I didn’t. Not only does undergraduate research prepare you for the time management skills you need for grad school or the pace of independent research, it also allowed me to get mentorship that I would not have gotten without my research experience.”

For her senior departmental honors thesis, Castle will be collaborating with Alex Elvis Badillo at Indiana State University to contribute to the knowledge of Mesoamerica’s history, using luminescence dating to establish a chronology of the construction of ancient structures in Rural Quiechapa, Oaxaca, Mexico. 

Castle is currently applying to graduate programs in geosciences and is eager to make contributions in the fields of geochronology, geomorphology and quaternary science. A graduate of Massapequa High School, she obtained an associate’s degree in science from Nassau Community College prior to transferring to Stony Brook for her geology degree.

Read the interview with URECA Director Karen Kernan.

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