Faces of 2014 Graduates: Focusing on Changing Landscapes

Adam LeWinter, left, pictured with Professor Steve Anderson and graduate student Amy Burzynski during a December 2013 trip to Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano.

Photo courtesy of Amy Burzynski

Adam LeWinter was one busy guy the past two years while he worked on his master's degree in Earth Sciences at UNC.

There were his classes and research, which involved multiple trips to Hawaii, where he and UNC Professor Steve Anderson used cutting-edge technology to study small changes in the Kilauea Volcano's crater and lava lake that could trigger explosive activity and increases in lava flow.

The project ultimately earned LeWinter a prestigious grant from the U.S. Geological Survey, a Graduate Dean's Citation for Outstanding Thesis and a Dean's Citation for Excellence, recognizing his 3.8 GPA and overall academic achievement.

He also continued to work half-time, albeit it remotely, for his employer of four years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., where he studies another extreme natural phenomenon: glaciers in Alaska, Greenland, the Arctic and other parts of the world.

"I'm focusing my work on changing landscapes, whether the landscape is changing because of something like volcanic activity or something that's anthropogenic like warming temperatures that are causing melting ice in the Arctic," LeWinter said.

And he didn't let the arrival in February of Jack, he and his wife's first child, get in the way of finishing his thesis.

"I was about halfway through my thesis so he's been my writing buddy," LeWinter said.

Jack was on-hand to see his dad walk at commencement, as was LeWinter's wife, parents and sister.

Then it was back to work. LeWinter returned to work full-time as soon as he defended his thesis, but will continue to telecommute from Denver for two years, while his wife finishes medical school there.