Clarkson University Engineering Student Receives Grant to Investigate Hidden Sand Dunes and Ancient River Complex of the North Country

March 16, 2023

Clarkson University PhD Candidate Gladys Pantoja Flores has received a research award for non-traditional students from the Geological Society of America (GSA) Northeastern Section. This is the first time a GSA award has ever been given to a Clarkson student.

Gladys Pantoja, a Clarkson University PhD student, tows a GPR in Potsdam to explore ancient sand dunes which are remnants of the prehistoric Champlain Sea coastline.
Gladys Pantoja

Pantoja’s award reflects this enhanced focus on the intersectionality of engineering and geoscience as the University has recently expanded its geotechnical and environmental engineering course offerings.

Pantoja is collaborating with Professor of Applied Geology Allen Gontz as well as Brian Carl, Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at SUNY Potsdam to investigate ancient sand dunes, beaches, and other post-glacial features near Union Cemetery north of Potsdam and elsewhere in the St. Lawrence River Valley.

Pantoja is investigating the dunes and river system by collecting data with a state-of-the-art technology known as ground penetrating radar or GPR. She used a MALA Ground Explorer (GX) with a 160 MHz and a 450 MHz frequency antenna to collect data and then processed it with GPR-SLICE v7.MT GPR imaging software.

“In Brazil, I learned mapping techniques to explore deforestation and classification of land cover,” said Pantoja. “At Clarkson, I have access to high-tech tools and equipment such as Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) and can continue improving my skills and putting my knowledge into practice.”

Pantoja will be presenting initial results of her Potsdam ancient dune investigation at the combined Northeast Southeast section meeting of The Geological Society of America in Reston, Virginia on March 19.

Pantoja is originally from Venezuela and studied hydro-sedimentological evaluation of materials from rivers to be used commercially for construction. She began her doctoral studies with Gontz in September 2022. Pantoja is an active member of HOLA-CU, a social and professional student organization that promotes involvement in public issues of interest in engineering, social responsibility, improving equality through science and technology, and advancing integrity, achievement, diversity and entrepreneurship.

As a private, national research university, Clarkson is a leader in technological education and sustainable economic development through teaching, scholarship, research and innovation. We ignite personal connections across academic fields and industries to create the entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge and intellectual curiosity needed to innovate world-relevant solutions and cultivate the leaders of tomorrow. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the New York Capital Region, Beacon, N.Y., and New York City, Clarkson educates 4,000+ students across 95 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, the arts, education, sciences and health professions. Our alumni earn salaries that are among the top 2% in the nation and realize accelerated career growth. One in five already leads as a CEO, senior executive or owner of a company. To learn more about Clarkson University, go to
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