UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nicole Kirchner, of Birchrunville, Pennsylvania, and Jennifer Taylor, of Erie, Pennsylvania, have been named student marshals for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences' spring 2017 commencement. The ceremony will be held Friday, April 5, at Pegula Ice Arena on Penn State's University Park campus.
Nicole Kirchner: Student Marshal
Kirchner, a Schreyer Scholar majoring in materials science and engineering with a minor in mathematics, will serve as the college's student marshal. She is graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average. She will be accompanied by Susan Trolier-McKinstry, professor of ceramic science and engineering, and electrical engineering, during the commencement procession.
"I'm excited to serve as marshal, especially considering how many talented students are in the college. It feels like all my hard work has paid off," she said.
Kirchner was involved in research for all four years of her time as an undergraduate student. As a first-year student, she conducted experimental research with Zi-Kui Liu, professor of materials science and engineering, studying phase relations of metals. She then worked for three years in the laboratory of Susan Trolier-McKinstry, professor of ceramic science and engineering, and electrical engineering, where she helped to develop processes for depositing materials on the optics for a future X-ray space telescope that will improve the instrument’s detection limits.
Kirchner completed two internships as a student. As a quality engineering intern with First Quality, she analyzed production data and investigated a production problem related to diapers. As a metallurgical and quality systems intern with Alcoa, she helped the company stabilize the properties of cast ingots by modeling predictive behavior of materials under various conditions.
A student leader, Kirchner served as an orientation leader for the Schreyer Honors College's SHOTIME program for incoming students. She was junior and senior class representative for the student organization Material Advantage, and a member of Keramos, the national professional ceramic engineering fraternity.
After graduation, Kirchner will pursue a doctorate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, studying with Trolier-McKinstry and Ismaela Dabo, assistant professor of materials science and engineering.
Jennifer Taylor: Science Honor Marshal
Taylor, a Schreyer Scholar dual majoring in geosciences and English, will serve as science honor marshal. She is graduating summa cum laude and will be accompanied by Donald Fisher, professor of geosciences, during the commencement procession.
"I feel so honored to be the science honor marshal. I know so many brilliant and hardworking students in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and that makes this honor even more amazing to me. No student succeeds without the support of dedicated teachers and peers, and I've certainly found such people here," she said.
Taylor was involved in a range of activities spanning the arts and sciences during her time at Penn State. She conducted research with Donald Fisher, professor of geosciences, using geochemical analyses to investigate deformation processes that occur in subduction fault zones. Working with James Kubicki, former professor of geosciences who is now chair of the geological sciences department at the University of Texas at El Paso, she researched the feasibility of sequestering nuclear waste in synthetic minerals and multi-phase ceramics. She completed geosciences field camp, a six-week excursion to Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, where students apply numerous geosciences techniques they learn in class.
Taylor also found a passion for dance at Penn State. She joined the International Dance Ensemble in 2015 and served as co-director of the organization in 2016 and 2017. In this role she taught a variety of dances from around the world. She also served as scheduling coordinator for the organization for three years and was chair of the group's Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) group for one year. Taylor also served as a dance instructor for the Penn State Center for Arts and Crafts.
Taylor received numerous scholarships and awards during her time at Penn State, including the Baker Hughes Scholarship Award, the Matthew J. Wilson Honor Scholarship, and the Schreyer Honors College Academic Excellence Scholarship.
After graduation, Taylor will pursue a doctorate in structural geology and tectonics at the University of Minnesota.