While working toward his Ph.D. at the University of Utah, Brendon Quirk used evidence of ancient glaciers along the Wasatch Front to aid in understanding future change in the region. “Our research is a continuation of a century’s work in geology,” he said.
After researching evidence of ancient glaciers discovered by Western settlers in the late 1800s, Quirk and his colleagues put together the glacial history of the Wasatch Front. “We were trying to understand the timing of glaciation in Utah during the last ice age, and our work put quantitative estimates on the age of different positions of glaciers through time,” he said. The team used data from Big Cottonwood Canyon to better understand climate change in the area throughout history so their work can help others apply it to future climate change.
Along with his curiosity and background in glacial geology, Quirk originally began this research as a master’s project in the Geology and Geophysics Department at the U in 2014. This collaboration with his advisor, Jeff Moore, and other colleagues then evolved into further research. “I decided to stick around for a Ph.D., and we decided to expand the methods we used in Big Cottonwood Canyon to the entire North Central Wasatch range,” Quirk said. “The larger research effort behind this work is to use this knowledge across the Great Basin.”
Find this article and a lot more in the 2021 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.