From Eastern Kentucky University’s Meadowbrook Farm to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Reid “Zeke” Buskirk is making a name for himself in geochemistry.
The EKU junior was recently awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant. He will use the $1,000 prize to help fund his summer trip to Ecuador through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies. Phi Kappa Phi, a national honors society, awards 50 such grants nationwide each year, and Buskirk is one of only two grantees from Kentucky.
Born and raised in Richmond, the double chemistry and geology major was homeschooled by his parents, Dr. Buz Buskirk and Dr. Marda Stribling, both mathematics professors at EKU.
Buskirk, who has achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA at EKU, remarked that having two college professors as parents “helped me realize the importance of higher education from an early age and prepare me for college workloads and expectations.” His parents’ love of math also translated to him, a trait that has proven helpful in the chemistry field.
Furthermore, homeschooling gave Buskirk the time and freedom to study what he really loved: science and the outdoors.
As a child, Buskirk enjoyed collecting fossils and rocks. As he grew into his teens and became an Eagle Scout, the outdoors became even more appealing, a passion he continued by serving as a Boy Scout leader for Troop 2014.
Buskirk’s fascination with rocks and land formations led him to the field of geology. He decided to add chemistry as a second major in his freshman year after taking Chemistry 111 with Dr. Jerome May.
“Dr. May is a geochemist,” he explained. “He shares my love of geology. He has been a constant source of help and encouragement. Dr. May and Dr. (Gary) Kuhnhenn (a geology professor) got me thinking of geochemistry as a career path.”
Buskirk’s current research focuses on nitrate and ammonium contamination of groundwater and surface water at Meadowbrook Farm with Dr. Walter Borowski.
He recently presented a poster on the topic at the Northeastern/ North Central Geological Society of America Conference, in addition to presenting at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences and the Kentucky Honors Roundtable.
After graduating in May 2019, Buskirk hopes to become either an analytical petrologist, a hydrologist, or both.
Until then, Buskirk has other big plans, including traveling to the Ecuador mainland and Galapagos Islands this summer to learn applied field methods and study the volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and other natural hazards caused by the geology of Ecuador.
“I have never been outside of the U.S and am very excited about the trip to Ecuador this summer. It will be a great field experience for me as a geologist and as a scientist.”
Buskirk said his time in college has prepared him well.
“Learning and experiencing new things at EKU has helped me to be more open-minded,” he said, “and encouraged me to try new things that push me out of my comfort zone.”
-- by Yasmin White, Student Writer, EKU Communications and Brand Management