College of Earth and Mineral Sciences names spring student marshals

Fatimah Altarrah has been named the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ student marshal, the top graduate overall, and Madeline Nyblade has been named the college’s science honor marshal, the top graduate in a nonengineering discipline. They will be recognized during the college’s spring 2018 commencement ceremony, scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, May 4, in the Pegula Ice Arena.

Altarrah earned her bachelor of science in petroleum and natural gas engineering summa cum laude with a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA. After graduation, Altarrah will work as a petroleum engineer with Saudi Aramco Services Company. She hopes to continue her studies in a few years.

“This is a huge honor and a great accomplishment,” Altarrah said “I’m especially happy to be able to make my parents proud as a way to say thanks for all of their efforts.”

As an undergraduate, Altarrah’s engineering research opportunities included studying the characterization of Eagle Ford Shale and sweet-spot mapping for hydraulic fracturing in South Texas. She has also conducted research using microbes to help clean oil spills as part of her study of the world petroleum industry. Altarrah received numerous honors and awards including Penn State’s Evan Pugh Scholar Award.

Altarrah’s honor marshal is Russell Johns, professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering. Altarrah said she chose Johns because she really respects his teaching methods and his ability to challenge her.

Nyblade, a Schreyer Scholar, graduates summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in geosciences.

Nyblade will spend the year working with high school students on hiking, canoeing and backpacking trips before heading to graduate school, where she will pursue studies related to sustainability. Her work in Punjab, India, where she looked at the world’s most rapidly depleting groundwater resource inspired her to further study complex issues related to sustainability.

“When I think about the future, it scares me how little we are taking care of the environment. The more I learn, the more I realize sustainability is a social justice issue where the communities most affected already have the fewest resources,” Nyblade said. “I want to work with those communities on shared priorities, offering my expertise with humility while honoring what others bring. I hope my work will empower others and invite people from diverse backgrounds into the sustainability conversation and the sciences.”

Nyblade has had numerous international research and study opportunities in addition to developing an interdisciplinary groundwater management model for Punjab, India. Among her many honors and awards are a first-place win in the 2017 student poster and abstract competition in the MODFLOW and More Conference at the Colorado School for Mines. Nyblade is also a multiple-award-winning member of the National Ski Patrol.

Nyblade’s honor marshal is Peter Heaney, professor of geosciences.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the college and the University,” Nyblade said. “I have learned so much at Penn State, and I worked really hard and was really excited about what I was learning. It’s an honor to be recognized by an organization full of people that I respect.”

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Last Updated May 01, 2018