Jenifer Gifford knows a gem when she finds one. So when she learned of an open faculty position in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, she decided to apply for it.
“I found it through an online geology jobs website from the Geological Society of America,” said the native of Marlborough, Connecticut. “I decided to accept the position for the opportunity to pursue my own research and to be able to teach my chosen subjects.”
Gifford also found that she enjoyed her initial interactions with faculty within the department and felt that they would make good colleagues. The feeling was mutual, said Gregg Davidson, chair and professor of geology and geological engineering.
“Dr. Gifford is a most welcome addition to our department,” Davidson said. “Already, her teaching and research have made a lasting impression upon many of her students and colleagues alike. We expect even more from her in the future.”
A graduate of Syracuse University and the University of Florida, Gifford said earning her doctorate from the latter is her most fulfilling professional achievement to date.
“I graduated my undergraduate magna cum laude, which I was very proud of as I did poorly in a few of my first courses when I was still getting used to being in college,” she said. “I am most proud of the fact that despite a slightly rocky start, I successfully completed my Ph.D. in geology. At times, I wondered if I was ever going to manage to complete the degree.”
Courses Gifford teaches at UM include Optical Mineralogy, Mineralogy and Elementary Petrology, Structural Geology, Global Tectonics, Advanced Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. Her research interests focus on using geochronology and geochemistry to answer large tectonic questions.
“Primarily, this is focused on the midwestern United States and the formation of Laurentia,” she said.
She really enjoys the enthusiasm of many of her students.
“Even when the class they are taking is not their favorite, they still show interest in the subject and are generally willing to work towards understanding of the subject,” Gifford said. “I also really like the School of Engineering/Geology and Geological Engineering department’s commitment to getting our students out in the field.
“I feel that fieldwork is imperative to forming a good geologist/geological engineer and love how supporting the department and school are toward that end.”
Gifford’s family includes her father, Michael Gifford, a senior computer scientist for Computer Sciences Corp.; and two sisters, Sara Gifford, chief solutions officer at Quintiq; and Elizabeth Williams, a speech therapist and audiologist in the Boston Public Schools.
In her free time, Gifford enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, playing with her dog and creating stained glass.
Courtesy of Edwin Smith and the Ole Miss News Desk
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