Mollie Pettit, an alumna of the 2008 IRIS Internship Program and a graduate of West Virginia University with a duel major in mathematics and geology, has recently been awarded with the prestigious American Geological Institute (AGI)/American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) fall semester internship in Geoscience Public Policy.
Based in Washington, DC, Pettit will actively work with Congress and federal agencies to promote sound public policy in areas that affect geoscientists, including water, energy, mineral resources, geologic hazards, environmental protection, and federal funding for geoscience research and education. Pettit will gain a first-hand understanding of the legislative process and the operation of executive branch agencies.
As an IRIS intern, Pettit used receiver functions to calculate crustal thickness in the central Basin and Range province of the western US. It was previously thought that the crust had the same thickness across an abrupt decrease in elevation in Southern Nevada, near 37 degrees N latitude, requiring anomalies in the mantle to support the elevation change, but Pettit's results suggest that at least part of the isostatic support comes from the crust. Her work was presented at the American Geophysical Union's 2008 Fall Meeting in a paper titled "It's Still Downhill From Tonopah to Las Vegas, but the Crust Doesn't Ride for Free".