Graduate digs for gold
Emily Alker came to Bloomsburg hoping to be a teacher. She's now digging for gold in Alaska.
Emily Alker had dreams of becoming a secondary education chemistry teacher. Things changed when she switched her major to geology in her sophomore year. Alker is now nowhere near a classroom as she recently accepted a job in Fairbanks, Alaska, working as a geologist at the Pogo Mine.
"One of my friends who I used to study calculus with was a geology major who was researching porphyry copper deposits," Alker said. "We used to talk about his research and geology all the time, and I got interested in it. That eventually led me to change my major."
“I decided to double major in chemistry, because it's crucial to understand chemistry to interpret geological processes,” said Alker. “Bloomsburg has an excellent geology and chemistry department with small class sizes, which allowed me to gain a relationship with my professors. In addition, the hands-on and critical thinking skills I've developed from taking classes at Bloomsburg prepared me for my position as a geologist.”
Alker was an ore processing intern for a mine in Round Mountain, Nevada, and the ore control geology intern for Cripple Creek, Colorado, and worked at two open-pit gold mines. With this experience and the help of her supervisor, Alker was more than qualified for this position.
“My supervisor from my internship in Colorado recommended a website called mining.com to search for geology positions, which is how I learned of the job at Pogo. I'm also active on LinkedIn, and use it as a tool to stay connected with coworkers from my internships and make connections with other geologies and to research companies.”
With endless opportunities and freedom in her new home, Alker has a busy yet productive schedule that begins before sunrise and ends after sunset.
“I'm working at the Pogo Mine, an underground gold mine located 90 miles southeast of Fairbanks," said Alker. “My primary role is to collect geological information and perform the underground geological activities that are required to facilitate the extraction and growth of the mineral reserve of the Pogo mine, such as mapping, interpreting assay data, and logging drill hole core.”
“A typical day for me is waking up at 4:30 a.m., and driving to the core shed at 5:15 a.m., and then logging core or entering underground mapping data into the software until the end of the day at 5:30 p.m. I just started this position, so after a few months of logging core and getting familiar with the geology of the mine, I will be trained in underground mapping.”
From Cresco, Pa., Alker is ready to start her life living among Alaska’s glaciers, volcanoes, rivers, and lakes four time zones away from family and friends.
“I'm very excited for my job and to do activities such as snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking. I'm also excited to experience mining camp life. The mine is remote, so they provide dorm-style housing and accommodation because all the employees must live on site. It's easy to stay connected with phones and social media. I'm also working a two-week on/two-week off shift rotation, which will allow me to visit my family and friends on my time off.”
Alker plans to continue her education and stay in the mining career for the near future, “I do not have a set amount of time for how long I will be working for this company, but I do plan to stay in the mining industry. In the future, I would like to pursue a master’s degree in economic geology.”