2019 SGT Science and Ski Retreat

Authored by Miguel Cisneros.

Graubünden: the largest canton in Switzerland by area, and home to beautiful Alpine vistas, pizzoccheri, and Disentis, the city in which the inaugural (since Whitney Behr took the helm) Structural Geology and Tectonics (SGT) Science and Ski Retreat was held. The SGT Science and Ski Retreat is an annual event that brings together the entire team for 2 action packed days of science and skiing. Led by PhD student Carolyn Tewksbury-Christle, the 2019 SGT Retreat itinerary was jam-packed with activities that included presidential addresses by Whitney Behr and Claudio Madonna, mini-poster presentations on research being carried out by the group, presentations from researchers and postdocs on cutting-edge methods and outstanding problems in Structural Geology and Tectonics, and brainstorming sessions about critical questions in Structural Geology and Tectonics and the state of Earth Sciences in the 21st Century. There was also a fun SGT logo contest. Look out for an award-winning SGT logo that was created by Carolyn, placed on presentations coming near you. And of course, an entire morning was also devoted to “shredding the gnar” or snowshoeing in Disentis.

The SGT Science and Ski Retreat was a great success. We have a big, diverse research group with a broad range of expertise, and the retreat was critical for helping us to find out about others research interests, our research strengths and weaknesses, our goals as a team, a little bit about each other’s personalities, and how we can successfully work with other people in the group to tackle important problems in Structural Geology and Tectonics. The brainstorming sessions covered interesting topics that included how to more effectively reach out to the public and students about Geological Sciences, how to bridge the gap between different scales of geology, and the role of computing in geology.  Ultimately, these do topics have important implications for the role that Structural Geology and Tectonics will have in the Earth sciences, and the directions the field may take moving forward. The mini-poster and oral presentations also brought forward good ideas, that included how our group can tackle some research problems that relate to dating calcite mineralization, thermobarometry techniques, and numerical modeling of geological processes.

For myself, the beginning of the SGT Science and Ski retreat marked my 6th day in Switzerland since arrival. I can already say, I’m lucky to have landed amongst an excellent group of colleagues. I’ve moved to ETH to help further develop some analytical techniques and to apply these techniques to help better understand processes that shape and form continents, and it’s clear that the time spent here will lead to fruitful research collaborations. So much so, that the SGT postdocs already had an extended “research” mini-retreat in Disentis. Talk about an introduction to the SGT group and the Swiss Alps. Until next time. Ciao!


The hardened look of seasoned retreaters after two full days of science and skiing.

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