MSU student Russel Rogers working with seismic data at KGS
As a child, Russel Rogers was fascinated by rockets, engineering, planets, space, and other sciences. “My parents had these encyclopedias of science,” he says. “When I was in the third or fourth grade, that’s what I looked at for recreation.” As a high school student in Maine, he considered volcanology for a career. “I saw a video by Katia and Maurice Krafft, a French couple who did volcanology videos. That got me interested in volcanoes and geology, but I didn’t think it paid very well,” he says.
He thought a career as a doctor was bound to make more money, so he started college at the University of Southern Maine majoring in biology and hoping to get into medical school. “Watching a lot of ‘M*A*S*H’ had a lot to do with that,” he jokes. “But I found I didn’t really like it, and I couldn’t get into graduate school, which was a good thing.”
He eventually went to Morehead State University, after he had followed his parents when they moved to Middlesboro, Ky. His earlier interest in space prompted him to major in astrophysics at MSU originally, but he switched to geology “because the story of the earth is fascinating to me.” Ashton Killen, another MSU student working at KGS this summer, urged him to contact KGS about an internship, and he got in touch with KGS seismologist Seth Carpenter about possible projects available for summer work. Carpenter found a good fit for Rogers, who enjoys the problem-solving aspect of geophysics. “Seth is having me characterize seismic waves from the instruments in the temporary Eastern Kentucky Microseismic Monitoring Network to determine which recordings are from natural events and which are blasts,” he says. “Initially, I asked Seth a lot of questions, because there is a learning curve, and I’m still on that curve. There are different frequencies and amplitudes and different distances between the waves.” He’s working to improve his skills at recognizing the difference between seismic recordings of natural and human-caused events and his understanding of why they differ.
Rogers doesn’t have specific career plans yet, but he’s hoping his degree will get him into a public service career. “This summer job gives a kind of framework in which I can later apply what I’ll learn. I’m hoping it will provide a gateway to a career that helps with public safety.”