Shoshauna Farnsworth-Pinkerton

Shoshauna Farnsworth-Pinkerton was a Discovery Scholar from Fall 2015 through Spring 2017, working with Dr. Nancy J. McMillan in the Department of Geological Sciences. Her degree, which was awarded in Summer 2017, is a BS in Geology, Option in Geological Sciences.  The picture above shows Shoshauna before her talk at the NMSU Undergraduate Research and Creative Arts Symposium (URCAS) in Spring 2016.

Shoshauna’s research project involved analysis of detrital tourmaline grains with Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS). Detrital minerals, or the mineral grains in sandstones, contain a wealth of information about the source regions that were eroded to produce the sand that became sandstone. The mineral tourmaline is well-suited for study because its crystal chemistry accepts a wide variety of elements and records the composition of the rock in which it originally formed. Furthermore, tourmaline has very low diffusion rates, so that compositional information is locked in place, even when the grain is eroded from its original host rock, deposited in a sandstone, buried, and metamorphosed. This project involves analysis of tourmaline in the Rinconada Schist in northern New Mexico using a relatively new analytical technique, Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS). A graduate student in McMillan’s lab, John Curry, has recently demonstrated that it is possible to determine the original host lithology of a tourmaline grain using LIBS analyses. Shoshauna’s work will be the first to apply the LIBS method to a metasedimentary rock.

Shoshauna presented her work at the 2016 URCAS conference at NMSU and the Geological Society of America conference in Denver in September 2016. She has been accepted for graduate study at Louisiana State University, where she will study with Drs. Barb Dutrow and Darrell Henry, world experts in tourmaline geochemistry.

Shoshauna with her Discovery Scholars advisor (Dr. Nancy McMillan, center), and the Dean of the Honors College (Dr. Miriam Chaiken, left), after her presentation at URCAS.


Here, you see Shoshauna and her current graduate advisor, Dr. Barb Dutrow, at Shoshauna’s postre at the Geological Society of America meeting (September, 2016).


Shoshauna’s presentation at the URCAS conference: Farnsworth-Pinkerton URCAS Presentation

Shoshauna’s published abstract from the GSA meeting in 2016: Abstract