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Student, Noah Safieh

Geology has far-reaching applications, junior discovers

By Lindsay Thomas

Noah Safieh knows that geology reaches far beneath the surface.

“I had one experience where I went to Utah to explore the sandstone formations, canyons, and caves,” he said. “I’m interested in studying our planet and the processes involved.”

As a transfer student from Westchester Community College, Safieh enrolled in Harpur College in the fall of 2013.

Safieh studied astronomy at his previous college, and had intentions of registering as an astronomy major at Binghamton University. But he knew those plans would change, he said, after taking an introductory geology class.

“I was first interested in geology from my original interest in astronomy,” the 22-year-old junior said.

But his geology classes sparked a curiosity in other environmental developments beyond astronomy.

“I was interested in studying our planet and the processes involved,” he said.

Safieh’s interest in geology was encouraged by two of his professors, Richard Naslund and David Jenkins. Naslund and Jenkins, both members of Harpur College’s geology department, offered support and encouragement.  

“Both of them kept me interested [in geology] through engaging classes and their great sense of humor,” he said. “They are just so passionate about the subjects that they are teaching.”

The wide-ranging applications of geology also appealed to Safieh. Geologic career options include positions in company management, teaching and fieldwork.

“After graduation, I plan on going on to get a teaching certification in order to teach earth science,” Safieh said. The certification process in New York state generally takes about a year and focuses on online coursework, making it an attractive option for those who want to teach but don’t want to return to college for a bachelor’s degree in education.

Safieh said that, while the educational certification program appeals to him, “There’s also the option of a career in the natural gas industry.” In Binghamton and its surrounding areas, fracking — the process of removing natural gas from the earth using jets of water — has been a debated issue for years. Though fracking has been banned in New York, it is still legal in bordering Pennsylvania.

“Fracking is a very misunderstood industry,” Safieh said. “People hear the bad press, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Those involved in fracking should be held accountable for ecological damage that negligence may cause, and plan accordingly.”

But his love for astronomy also remains. Harpur College offers an astrogeology field of study, he said, which “is still my major area of interest” as it combines both subjects.

While a career in astrogeology, the study of data from planetary bodies, often requires a doctoral degree, Safieh’s introductory classes offered preliminary knowledge that will overlap into other, geologic-centric fields. And Binghamton is a hotbed for geologic jobs.

“If you are interested in natural gas and fracking, this area is one of the best,” Safieh said. “We’re sitting on top of the Marcellus shale natural gas reserve, and a lot of companies are popping up to take advantage of that.”

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Last Updated: 3/1/17