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Intern Spotlight: Kaden Berkhahn (RESESS)

Tags: internships

This summer we’re introducing interns from URISE, RESESS, Student Career, and Geo-Launchpad programs to highlight their research projects and how EarthScope programs further their career goals.

Kaden Berkhahn is a RESESS intern from Milwaukee, Wisconsin spending the summer in Boulder, Colorado. He’s entering his senior year at UW Milwaukee double majoring in geology and conservation & environmental science (CES) with a minor in biology. Kaden first heard about EarthScope through his department’s weekly opportunities newsletter, and he was immediately interested.

This summer, Kaden is working on a project examining megacrystic zircon from kimberlite pipes. Kimberlite pipes are volcanic features that tend to be found in Precambrian cratons (ancient parts of the continental plates); most plates are over a billion years old. Kaden is analyzing the physical and chemical characteristics of the zircons including size variation, shape, and crystal faces. The samples come from numerous kimberlite pipes, many from Canada and South Africa. These zircon samples are considered to be “megacrystic” because the samples are between 3-7 millimeter, whereas typical zircon samples are under 1 millimeter.


  • What piqued your interest in the RESESS program?

I really wanted to take part in an internship program that was out of state because I wanted to have more experience somewhere else. I also wanted to gain research experience in an environment where I knew it would be welcoming and inclusive.

  • What’s been your favorite part of the internship so far?

 I really enjoyed the first few weeks getting settled and getting acquainted with other interns. I felt like it was very nice to have people to rely on and talk to about any internship-related stuff. For the internship so far, getting this research experience in a lab has been super nice. I’m a first generation college student so I didn’t really know what I was getting into for lab research.

  • How does this internship fit with your career goals and post-grad plans?

Before this internship I was leaning against going to grad school. I think it was because I didn’t understand or feel comfortable knowing how to figure out information. I feel like this internship has really helped me and opened my eyes to perhaps going to grad school and also helped me gain more academic experience.

In his free time, Kaden enjoys playing video games, hiking, and wood carving. Upon the conclusion of his internship, Kaden plans to hike around the Flatirons and go on a camping trip. He also plans to look into potential research projects at his university, UW Milwaukee. When he completes his undergraduate studies, Kaden hopes to either get a master’s in geology or ecology or work for the Park Service.