Meet our Geology Ambassadors

The Geology Ambassadors present the department to prospective students, alumni, and guests.  They also promote Geology at campus events.  If you would like to meet with an ambassador, email

Brian D'Souza

Curriculum Concentration: Geophysics
Bio & Career Goals:  Brian transferred to University of Illinois in Fall 2019 and is pairing his Geophysics major with English via dual degree. This summer he rode across the country to fight against cancer as part of Illini 4000’s Bike America team. Now he is pursuing research with Professor Anders studying predictive models for the glaciers of Washington’s Olympic National Park. Brian hopes to join the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Commissioned Officer Corps after graduating and is excited about how the Geology department can prepare him for such a role.

Garrett Frank

Curriculum Concentration: Specialized Geology
Bio & Career Goals: Garrett is an undergraduate majoring in Geology with an interest in Geomorphology and Climate. Currently, Garrett is working with Dr. Alison Anders studying post-glacial river development. He hopes to attend graduate school upon graduation. Eventually, Garrett would like to pursue a career in academia.

Lily Lucas

Curriculum Concentration: Geophysics
Bio & Career Goals: Lily is from Plymouth, Michigan in metro-Detroit and is a major in Geology with a specialty in Geophysics. She plays for the University of Illinois Women’s Soccer Team and when she is not playing soccer or studying, Lily loves to go on hiking trips and try to find some cool rocks. Lily is currently working with Prof. Trish Gregg on a project studying subglacial volcanoes - specifically Westdahl in Alaska! As of now, she would like to be a professor. Lily enjoys talking about volcanoes and rocks with fellow Illini and prospective students!

Sam Neumann

Curriculum Concentration: Specialized Geology
Bio & Career Goals: Sam Neumann is a sophomore in Geology from Wheaton, Illinois. He is interested in studying tectonic plates and orogenies in the future. Sam loves to read, listen to music, and he also plays the trombone as a member of the Marching Illini. Sam hopes to become a geoscientist and be a field researcher.


Cynthia Ochoa

Curriculum Concentration: Geology Science and Letters, minoring in Secondary Education
Bio & Career Goals: Cynthia transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Fall 2019 from Morton College.  She decided to major in Geology after taking an introductory Geology course taught by a wonderful and passionate professor at Morton College, Professor Sleeth, who was an influential educator that ignited Cynthia's passion for Geology driving her to pursue it as a career. Growing up, the popular video game “Minecraft” introduced her to common rocks and minerals through a fun and easy way of mineral and rock exploration sparking an interest in Geology at a young age. Cynthia is also a Secondary Education minor, as her time volunteering at the Adler Planetarium in downtown Chicago for 4 years made her realize her passion for teaching. She is pursuing to become a high school Earth Science teacher. Cynthia hopes to continue growing and blossoming the excitement in students to learn about the Earth.

Dominik Rzeszutek

Curriculum Concentration: Geophysics
Bio & Career Goals:  Dominik is an undergraduate Geology major who is interested in Planetary Geology and Volcanology. He enjoys spending his time listening to indie-rock and being outdoors! Dominik is also the Treasurer of GeoClub and loves having a great time with everyone at the hikes. Ultimately, Dominik aims to one day be a researcher in the field and hopefully an astronaut! Feel free to reach out if you have any similar interests or goals!

KeMia Smith

Curriculum Concentration: Geology Science and Letters
Bio & Career Goals:  KeMia is an undergraduate from Kankakee, IL studying Geology and Economics with a minor in Chemistry. She has an interest in geochemistry and economic geology. She hopes to one day conduct research in the department and attend graduate school. In her free-time she loves collecting and studying crystals and maps. She hopes to one day travel and study how society can better use Earth’s resources.

Valerie Smykalov

Curriculum Concentration: Specialized Geology
Bio & Career Goals:  Valerie is a junior in Geology. She is working on research at the Illinois State Water Survey - where she does hydrological modeling, Illinois State Geologic Survey - where she analyzes rock samples for trace rare earth elements, as well as research on strontium fractionation with Professor Lundstrom in our department. She loves doing anything that requires hiking shoes, listening to podcasts, and sewing clothes!

Hayley Woodrich

Curriculum Concentration: Geology Science and Letters
Bio & Career Goals: Hayley is a returning undergraduate studying Geology. She has two previous B.A. degrees from the University of Illinois in Political Science and Communication. Hayley has an interest in conducting research around geological disasters, such as volcanoes, and translating this knowledge to advocacy work for communities at risk. In her free time, Hayley enjoys sewing, working out, and playing video games!