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Local student one of 12 Americans to sail around Europe on research trip

Aspiring scientist combines a love for rocks with a zest for travel
Posted at 6:01 PM, Apr 26, 2024

DE PERE (NBC 26) — Meghan Dutton returned to class just six short hours after arriving home from a different type of class — the field research experience of a lifetime.

  • Dutton was one of only 12 Americans, and 16 students total, selected to be a part of Voyage 402T aboard the JOIDES Resolution
  • The St. Norbert College junior trained on laboratory equipment and studied core samples, on the same vessel that has contributed to NASA rovers and groundbreaking tectonic plate research
  • The geology major said she applied some of her experience from St. Norbert on the trip, but that the field experience was second to none
  • Dutton returned from the two-and-a-half week journey — which took her from Naples, Itlay to Amsterdam — early Friday morning
  • Video shows highlights from Dutton's journey, and one of her professors explaining the significance of the program

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

One local student got to combine her love for rocks and a zest for travel, in a trip of a lifetime.

We're here with an aspiring scientist, with quite a story to tell.

Meaghan Dutton is back in class.

"What time did you get back?" her professor asks.

"I got back at 3:40 in the morning," Dutton responds.

After two and a half weeks in a different kind of classroom.

Meaghan boarded the <i>JOIDES Resolution</i> in Italy and studied on the ship throughout her journey, with some bumps along the way:

"I was out for two whole days," Dutton said. "I did not respond well to seasickness."

But ultimately, she made it to Amsterdam.

"This is such a lived experience," Dutton said. "Even here, regardless of the university, at college — this is something that you can't replicate.

She was one of only twelve American students in the program.

"Meaghan was the only student from a liberal arts institution," associate professor of earth science Rebecca McKean said. "And she was the only student from the Midwest. So it was a pretty rare, and unique, and very, very competitive opportunity,

One of Meaghan's professors, Dr. Mcean, says she was able to learn aboard a pioneer in geology — using the same lab equipment that NASA used to develop rovers.

"This ship has contributed to our understanding of plate tectonics, which is pretty incredible," McKean said. "They've collected core samples from literally all over the world from different places in ocean crust, in basically every ocean around the planet."

Meaghan was happy to bring home a souvenir —

"I love rocks, so who doesn't love a really cool rock?" Dutton said.

And get some real field experience.

"My professors talk about field experiences they had in undergraduate, graduate, and professional," Dutton said. "I truly feel like this will be one of those experiences, that I talk about in 25-30 years, and these people I will still talk about, and be in contact with."

Both Meagan and Dr. McKean say her trip is a point of pride for geology at St. Norbert — and Meaghan says it might inspire her to teach science one day, too.