Joseph Rosal, Geology

If there’s a room that Joseph Rosal wouldn’t mind getting locked into on campus, it would be the Geology Collection room. “It’s like a museum,” he said.

He admitted that it would be easy to get lost in the shelves of colorful minerals and drawers filled with fossils and shells—all clues describing Earth’s past.

But he didn’t always love rocks. After spending three semesters studying engineering, the Toms River native decided he needed to choose another path. “I realized I wasn’t going to love what I would be doing every day,” he said.

Then he discovered the field of volcanology, and despite never taking a geology class in his life, he switched his major.

“It’s something I could see myself doing for 40 years and still not be bored,” he said.

Send him outside with a rock hammer, and Rosal is in his element. Outdoor field experiences took him to the Catskills and the Adirondacks on weekend trips to bring textbook concepts to life.

“While learning the material in the lecture is great, getting to go out and see these features in person is a great learning experience,” he said.

Joining the Geology Club allowed him to experience rock formations across the country while adventuring through national parks and monuments with fellow students who he now calls friends.

“The trip also made me realize how much I’ve personally grown during my time at Stockton. If you told me that I’d spend two weeks camping and hiking in South Dakota and Wyoming when I first came to Stockton in September 2021, I would call you crazy. Those two weeks were some of the best memories I have ever had, and I will forever be grateful that I had that opportunity,” he said.

(Geology is) something I could see myself doing for 40 years and still not be bored... While learning the material in the lecture is great, getting to go out and see these features in person is a great learning experience."

He is heading back west for graduate school at the University of Nevada and to work in the Center for Research in Economic Geology, but before that, he’s going on one more trip with the Geology Club to explore Arizona this spring.

Rosal enjoyed the coursework outside of his major too. “Poisons: For Good or Evil” taught him about venomous creatures and poison in mythology. “It was a fun class, and in a grander scheme, helped me realize that things that seem bad aren’t necessarily bad. For example, venomous animals aren’t evil, they have poison as a defense mechanism for survival purposes,” he said.

Rosal is a first-generation Osprey. Being the first in his family to attend college presented challenges as he entered unfamiliar ground, but he is thankful for the encouragement from his parents who value education.

Communication is a key skill in science. Geology helped him face his fears when he got the opportunity to present his research at the Joint Southeastern-Northeastern GSA conference last year with Rocky Severs, associate professor of Geology, and some classmates.

As a teaching assistant for Physical Geography and a tutor for Geology, he shared his passion and knowledge with classmates. “Seeing concepts click in a student’s head when they have their ‘aha’ moment is always great to see,” he said.

Matthew “Rocky” Severs, associate professor of Geology, has witnessed Rosal inside and outside the classroom.

“Joe has been an invaluable member of the Geology program and Geology Club for the last few years," Severs said. "He has always been great about having a sense of humor and sharing his passion with his classmates in the classroom, in the lab and in the field.”

Rosal will miss the tight-knit community of Geology majors and professors he bonded with in classes, on field trips and on a road trip out west.

A rock-solid experience at Stockton paved the way for him to climb higher into the field of Geology as he pursues his master’s degree.