November 2023 Outcrop

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Meet Patty Standring PhD Student, University of Texas, Austin, and Recipient of the 2023 RMAG Foundation Veterans’ Memorial Scholarship I have a non-traditional path to the geosciences. Before going to the University of Texas at Austin (UT) for my bachelor’s degree, I spent ten years in the Air Force as a Dari Language Analyst (Dari is one of the primary languages spoken in Afghanistan). At first, I really enjoyed the work, and felt like I was doing something good by contributing to Operation Enduring Freedom. As the war in Afghanistan progressed, and especially during my deployment, I began to feel there was something better, and less morally confusing, I could do that would impact humanity in a positive way. While deployed to Bagram Airfield, northern Afghanistan experienced a moderate magnitude earthquake. I grew up in Southern California, so was familiar with earthquakes and the damage they could cause. What I dealt with as a child was nowhere near the damage to this one village in northern Afghanistan. The building construction style and limited (or lack of) emergency services compounded the devastation, and many lives were lost. The recent earthquakes in Herat, western Afghanistan, are an even worse representation of what that country goes through when an earthquake happens. I remember thinking that these people had seen and been through enough, and I no longer felt what I was doing was helping make their lives better. After that, I began to look for other opportunities to contribute to society in a more positive way. When my second enlistment ended, I decided I would pursue science, and my interest in the outdoors and earthquakes led me to geology. OUTCROP | November 2023


RMAG’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee is featuring a monthly Member Corner. We hope you’ll enjoy learning about the diverse community of Earth scientists and wide variety of geoscience disciplines that comprise our membership. If you would like to appear in an upcoming column, or if there is someone you would like to nominate, please contact

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? I grew up in San Bernardino, California, which is east of Los Angeles, and part of what is generally called the “Inland Empire.”



In the military, I was a Dari Language Analyst, which entailed translating information considered either tactically or strategically important to Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior to the Air Force, I had a lot of service-based jobs in retail and fast food. For part of my UT undergraduate degree, I worked at the Austin Public Library as a Page – my responsibilities were shelving books and customer service – which I really loved and sometimes miss. I even considered changing my focus to get a Master of Information Science or Library Science, but I couldn’t leave geology because I loved it so much. While at UT, I was offered opportunities to work as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in two different labs: the Geochronology Lab with Dr. Daniel

Vol. 72, No. 11 |

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