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Science Shorts

From Caribbean girl to California geologist

Concept: Scientists are influenced by their personal experiences and cultures.

By Liselle Persad

Liselle Persad poses with an intriguing rock formation

I have always had a passion for Earth Science and was fortunate enough to be born on an island with a rich geology. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, I was surrounded by evidence of a complex geologic past: interesting rock formations, beautiful beaches, and the largest asphalt deposit in the world, La Brea Pitch Lake. All of this sparked my curiosity about the history and geologic processes of the Earth. How did these rock formations come about? What processes influenced the transport and deposition of sediment in order for these beaches, waterfalls and mountain ranges to be formed? Where did all this tar come from?

Following my curiosity, I went on to complete my Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Geoscience at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. This was not only the closest degree to Geology available but also relevant to the local economy, as the island is very dependent on the oil and gas industry.

I am now continuing my quest for knowledge by pursuing a Master of Science degree in Geology at California State University, Northridge. My research focuses on sedimentary petrology, which is the study of the origin, structure and composition of sedimentary rocks and their history of deposition. This lets me apply the skills and knowledge that I acquired throughout my time as a geoscience student in Trinidad. I was also part of the 2019 International Ocean Discovery Program’s School of Rock, which taught science educators and students like me about the Joides Resolution drillship and the science done on their voyages. This has further fuelled my passion for wanting to understand and investigate geological processes. As a scientist, I get to explore what exists both above and below the surface of the Earth, and assemble these puzzle pieces together into a geological story. This, to me, is the most captivating aspect of studying geology and Earth science. It has, without a doubt, increased my appreciation for the beauty of my island birthplace. As for now, I’m taking the skills I learned as a scientist in Trinidad and carrying them with me as I explore new landscapes around the world and learn about the unique geologic histories that underlie them.

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