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Dean's Award: Megan Aunan

Awarded to the outstanding senior in each department.

Megan Aunan
Hometown: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Graduation: Spring 2016

Why did you choose the University of Idaho?
I chose UI because it is close to home and the Geology Department has a good reputation at North Idaho College, where I did my associate’s degree. Upon visiting the town of Moscow, I was immediately drawn to the small community feel, the rolling hills of the Palouse and the Moscow Food Co-op. I love Moscow!

Megan Aunan and Jordan Nance in Hydrology Lab
My classmate, Jordan Nance, and I during Hydrology Lab taking well measurements using the steel tape method.

In Awe of Yellowstone

The students’ mission — to measure heat coming up from the enormous volcano beneath Yellowstone.

Read about our students' hands-on experience


My favorite class has been Field Camp I. We went to southeast Utah, where we spent our time learning how to conduct field work by mapping the geologic units of many state and national parks including Goblin Valley, Natural Bridges, Arches and Canyonlands. Most of the course was spent camping out under the stars and building relationships with classmates which, in turn, have made being a part of this department feel more like being part of a family.

My favorite professor is Dr. Jerry Fairley. His lectures are always light hearted, chocked full of great stories and meaningful information, and doing field/lab work with him is a treat. He is extremely intelligent and the passion he has for his subject radiates from him.

My favorite lab was Hydrology 410, Techniques in Groundwater Study. Labs are conducted in the Hydrology Field Laboratory on the edge of campus.

Research Project?
The research project I found most enjoyable is studying the geochemistry of geothermal systems in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. The field work is without a doubt some of the most enjoyable work because we were able to poke, probe and collect samples from hot springs and mudpots. The data analysis is intriguing because the chemical makeup provides clues to the subsurface hydrogeology. I am looking forward to continuing my research on hydrothermal systems as part of my master’s.

Megan Aunan at the 2015 Expo with Professor Jerry Fairley
My advisor, Dr. Jerry Fairley, and I at the 2015 UI Science Expo.


What is your favorite study tip?
Rewriting my notes after lecture, with the course book open next to me, and taking the time to ensure that I understand everything in my lecture notes.

What is your go-to study snack?
Apples. I feel energized and mentally stimulated after eating an apple, and it boosts me through a long study session.

Megan Aunan, Cameron Smith, and Tyler Pierson at Field Camp I
Cameron Smith, Tyler Pierson, and I mapping the San Rafael Reef of Se Utah, our final project at Field Camp I.

Campus Life

Dorm or Greek?
Off campus! As a non-traditional student I did not have to stay in dorms or enter into Greek housing.

Intramural Sports or Student Clubs?
I have served as both vice-president and president of Geology Club. This experience has taught me leadership skills and given me the opportunity to enjoy activities with people who share my passion for geology.

Megan Aunan, Sarah Gussenhoven, and Alexis Moldenhauer at a Structural Geology field trip at Dworshak Reservoir
Sarah Gussenhoven, Alexis Moldenhauer, and I taking a break during our Structural Geology field trip at Dworshak Reservoir.

Tell us

What are your plans for after graduation?
I accepted a master’s program to stay at University of Idaho for 2 more years.

What advice to you have for other students in your major?
My advice for other students in my major is this: Don’t skip the struggle; take the hard classes and participate in undergraduate research. It will pay off. It isn’t always clear what awaits when you’re done and it goes so quickly. So work hard, but most of all, enjoy it!

Megan Aunan field mapping during Field II
Sarah Gussenhoven, WSU student Kellie Wall and I field mapping in Montana for Field Camp II.


College of Science

Physical Address:
Mines 321

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3025
Moscow, ID 83844-3025

Phone: 208-885-6195

Fax: 208-885-6904


Web: College of Science