My name is Wesley von Dassow and I’ve loved living and working in Panama this summer. This past December I graduated from Lafayette College (Easton, PA) with a degree in geology; however, I spent my final semester before graduating early at University College Dublin in Ireland. I have a strong interest in the structural evolution of the global landscape, especially sedimentary basins, and how the physical processes described by geology influence environmental transitions and biogeographical shifts. This year I’m taking off from school to spend time working, exploring Latin America, and making the most of the opportunity to work with PCP-PIRE in Panama. If you’re still curious about all things Wesley then read on!
I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida in the city of Sarasota, not too far from the University of Florida in Gainesville. I come from an academic family, many of whom are biologists focused on marine critters of some variety. As a youngster I flip-flopped between aspiring to be a marine biologist or a paleontologist, later into my schooling I settled on marine biology. It wasn’t until taking an elective course in college that I decided on a career in the geological sciences. From a young age I played the violin, a requirement of my household as both my parents were musicians to some degree, my father was a professional cellist. Football is huge in Florida and I grew up playing flag football with my friends, but in high school I started playing football at a local high school as mine had no varsity sports programs. Upon entering college I began playing Ultimate Frisbee, which has remained a passion of mine since. During the summers of my college “career” I completed internships across the country. First, I worked a paleontological dig with the Museum of the Rockies in Montana, then analyzed satellite imagery of the moon with researchers at the Smithsonian’s National Air and SpaceMuseum in D.C., and used radar data to identify fault movement at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA each year respectively. In January of 2013 I traveled with a class from Lafayette to the region around Quito in the Ecuadorian Andes and the Galapagos Islands that ignited my interest in Latin American geology and the culture of its people. I plan to continue exploring South America after this summer position with PIRE has concluded starting in Bogota, Colombia and working my way south to the Patagonia region of Chile.