Magdalena Sandoval Donahue

Albuquerque, NM

I am doctoral student in the Earth & Planetary Sciences department at the University of New Mexico. My dissertation work focuses on reconstructing landscapes of the southern Rocky Mountains. Using a variety of analytical methods and 3-dimensional modeling, I work to quantify the timing and rates of uplift, and propose driving mechanisms behind the Cenozoic uplift and exhumation history of this spectacular and unique landscape. One of the challenges I face with this work is expressing the vastness of geologic time and continental-scale landscapes in a way that people can relate to, identify with, and understand the multitude of process at work within the ever-changing  landscape.

One of my passions is enhancing the way people – scientists, public, adults, and children – relate to and understand the environment within which they exist. Following the 2012 birth of my daughter, I took the year off from my doctoral studies to pursue the creation of a smarthphone/mobile device application (“app”) called ‘Field Play,’ that provides augmented reality geologic field trips. I feel there is a fundamental interest of people to understand and identify with their surroundings. I feel that making the vast amounts and types of data about these surroundings – geological, biological, ecolotical, anthropological, historical, etc. – available and accessible to the population in a familiar, non-intimidating format (such as a smartphone) is key for enhancing the self-education of our entire populace.