2023 fieldtrip leaders


Darian Dixon

Darian Dixon, a Milwaukee native and Riverside alum, earned a Bachelor’s of Science in geology from UWM in 2015 and then went on to earn a Master’s of Science in geology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA in 2018. At WWU Darian became a member of the Mastcam and Mastcam-Z teams for the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers. His research helped mission team members plan the future use of the then in-development Mastcam-Z cameras to detect hydrated minerals on Mars. After his Masters, Darian moved to San Diego where he worked at Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) as a spacecraft operations engineer. He operated the Mastcam, MAHLI, and MARDI cameras on Curiosity and was Data Management Lead for Mastcam-Z on Perseverance. In his time at MSSS he was responsible for thousands of images taken on the surface of Mars and played a key role in the first videos of the Mars helicopter Ingenuity taking its first ever flights. Darian returned home to UWM to join the Geosciences PhD program. Beyond work, Darian is a father, avid gamer, gardener, sports fan, hip-hop junkie, and speaker/educator that is passionate about diversity and inclusion in STEM.


Jake PotterJake Potter

Jake recently completed his UWM Masters degree in Geosciences  working with Dr. Victoria McCoy on the functional morphology of the Tully Monster.  For his PhD work, he is focusing on more complicated fluid modeling for the Tully Monster’s swimming mechanics. Before starting grad school at UWM, Jake was a Biology and French double major at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He originally planned to be a microbiologist studying astrobiology before helping Dr. Amanda Falk with paleontology field work in 2018. Jake was immediately hooked on paleontology and started research on Sharovipteryx mirabilis’s gliding capabilities as an undergraduate John C. Young Scholar. Apart from his paleontology research, Jake also conducted research on humanities topics like environmental existentialism, Finnish design, and Polynesian cultural restoration after colonialism. Jake is excited to share his passion for paleontology this summer as a GO FoRWARD mentor and hopes to encourage underrepresented students to embrace interdisciplinary approaches in the geosciences and in other fields. Apart from being a student, Jake enjoys driving, cooking, baking, and drawing.

A summer experience hosted by the UWM Department of Geosciences and funded by the National Science Foundation, dedicated to increasing the diversity, equity, and inclusion of students majoring in geosciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.