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GSA President Don Siegel with award recipient Trista McKenzieTrista McKenzie, graduate research assistant at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, focusing on groundwater contamination through the use and development of geochemical tracer techniques, as well as investigating sea-level rise impacts to coastal wastewater infrastructure.

Trista stayed busy at GSA 2019 presenting research and attending On To the Future (OTF) meetings, technical sessions, and evening receptions. They share how the OTF meetings helped them learn more about the many opportunities available to them at GSA and how their mentor provided helpful advice for their future career path.

Trista was also recognized at the GSA Foundation Penrose Circle, Campaign for GSA’s Future, and Student Awards Dinner, where they received the Outstanding Student Research Award.

Pre–GSA 2019 Questions

What are your expectations for the annual meeting and OTF?

For the annual meeting, I am hoping my presentation goes well and that I get the opportunity to chat with a lot of people about their research. I will be looking for a post-doc in a few years and it’s never too early to start building those connections. For OTF, I am excited about meeting a diverse group of people and learning more about their experiences as geologists.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to learning about new research and expanding my network.

What would you like your mentor to help with during the meeting?

Discussing navigating potential challenges during one’s career as an underrepresented minority.

Post–GSA 2019 Questions

Did OTF meet your expectations?

OTF definitely met and exceeded my expectations. I was very impressed by the program’s goals of increasing diversity at all levels of GSA, including leadership positions. The GSA Annual Meeting was not the first conference I’ve attended, but the tools, workshops, mentoring, and opportunities discussed through the OTF program were a huge benefit and I enjoyed learning more about the many opportunities within GSA.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

First and foremost, the OTF program provided the opportunity for me to attend the GSA Annual Meeting. I think the most impactful aspect of my OTF experience was having the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people as well as meeting with my mentor.

What do you remember most from the annual meeting?

My schedule was pretty packed, from the morning OTF meetings, to attending the technical sessions, and then going to evening receptions or dinners—it’s amazing that I slept at all in Phoenix! I also felt the GSA Annual Meeting provided excellent opportunities for networking, both within and outside of my specific field of interest.

What was your mentorship experience like? Would you consider returning to serve as a mentor?

I had a great experience with my mentor. My mentor was able to offer a unique perspective on diversity in geosciences as well as provide advice for my future career path. I would definitely consider returning to serve as a mentor in the future.

After your OTF experience, how do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

I thought it was so cool to have the opportunity to be a part of such a diverse group of people through the OTF program. I would love to be able to participate with the OTF program in the future as a mentor, as well as seek out a student leadership position within GSA.


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