Modus Operandi with Geena Littel

Modus Operandi is a regular series that peers into the methods and personalities of UO  undergraduate scholars. 

Geena Littel is a senior geophysics major conducting research in the Thomas Lab.  Geena studies seismic waves that radiate from very small earthquake events at the Cascadia subduction zone to learn more about the behavior of attenuation, which is the dissipation of energy of the seismic wave as it travels. Attenuation is a key parameter of seismic hazard analysis and ground motion prediction for large earthquakes.

UROP caught up with Geena to learn more about her modus operandi.

Students get involved in research through a variety of ways. How did you get your start? 

I started in undergraduate research my sophomore year. I was taking geology 201, the introductory geology class, with my current mentor Amanda Thomas. She communicated the many research opportunities in earth sciences to our class and encouraged me to get involved. I did not anticipate becoming involved in research in college at all, and it’s made a significant impact on my life and career goals.

What would you say is the greatest benefit of conducting research as an undergrad?

Doing research is so much different than a class project or assignment. It has really expanded my way of thinking, taught me problem solving skills, and the realities of what doing research is like. Research is exciting, challenging, and most of all, rewarding. It’s made me so much better at what I do, and from this experience I’ve learned skills and concepts crucial in graduate school, and honed in on what I would like to work on in the future. I would encourage anyone considering graduate school to get involved in undergraduate research; you will be so much more prepared and ready to carry out different projects, tackle problems and gain a deeper understanding of what it is you would like to do.

Students are busy; do you use any apps or technology to help manage your time and productivity?

Frankly, no, I’ve never used any calendar app or Siri. I usually just write things down on a piece of notebook paper.

What are the primary tools, equipment, and/or resources that you use in conducting research? What do they do?

I work solely on a computer- I write computer programs that view seismic waveforms, manipulate data, perform inversions, produce maps and figures. It’s a lot of data processing and analysis.

If you could do research in a different field, what would it be? Why?

If I could choose a different field of research, I would choose oceanography- the class I took on it was so fun, I’ve always found the ocean to be particularly interesting, and there are many things going on in the ocean to study.

What is your favorite place on campus?

The trees by Deady Hall!

What are you currently reading?

Seismology textbook. Last non-textbook I read was China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua (which I would highly recommend!).

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what genre(s) and why?

Occasionally, however I usually find that after a few songs I am focused more on changing the song than my reading- so when I do, its usually more instrumental music.

How do you stay inspired and energized?

My professors inspire me- both through the material they teach and by seeing their enthusiasm for their work. Energized…. I do really like coffee. Also, I prefer to get up early and begin my day, which is when I am my most productive.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

That is a hard one… I can’t say I’ve received a single greatest piece of advice, however, the first one that comes to mind:  Do not be the person that is holding yourself back! Having confidence in yourself will elicit others’ confidence in you.