Our People - student spotlight

Stewart RouseStewart Rouse: Engaging in International Research

In the summer of 2006, Stewart Rouse took his classroom knowledge about seismic profiling to the field, imaging subsurface structure to help a platinum mine expand its operations.

“It was great—I learned about and used many of the different techniques and methods for profiling,” said Rouse, of his experience in AfricaArray's summer field course. “Hands-on learning is always good because there are some things which can’t be learned in a classroom.”

Rouse, then a junior at North Carolina A&T State University (NCAT), was one of about two dozen participants in that summer field course. Also in the group were other American undergraduate students as well as students from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa.

For three weeks, the group lived together first in Wits dormitories while preparing for their field work and then in field houses near the mine site in northeastern South Africa.

For Rouse, the multi-cultural experience was as valuable as the science lessons.

“I loved the people there,” said Rouse, now a master’s student in geosciences at Penn State. “There was no real culture shock—the other students were very bright, and all the people we met were very nice.”

Rouse’s 2006 trip to South Africa was not his first involvement with AfricaArray. As part of the partnership between NCAT and AfricaArray, he came to Penn State in the summer of 2005 to conduct research in geophysics with co-Director Andy Nyblade.

Rouse who expects to grade in December 2009 hopes to return to Africa. While his thesis on the Ethiopian Rift doesn’t require on-site research, he would like to visit Ethiopia.

“If you ask me, every African-American should try to make it to Africa at least one time in their life—if they have the opportunity,” Rouse said. My education is extremely important to me, so the chance to go to Africa and further my education was an unbelievable experience.”