Philip J. McKenna Memorial Scholarship For a Rising Senior Geology Major at Colorado College

The Philip J. McKenna Memorial Scholarship is given to a Colorado College geology major to support geologic studies in the Rocky Mountain region and to reward excellence in geologic achievement. The recipient is nominated by the faculty at Colorado College. This scholarship was nominated by Colorado College Geology Department faculty.  This scholarship was established by Don and Elizabeth McKenna in honor of their father and husband, respectively.  Philip McKenna was a geology major at Colorado College, served as President of RMAG in 1984, received the Distinguished Service Award in 1986, became an Honorary Member in 1989, and was named the Outstanding Explorer by RMAG in 1991.

The 2024 Philip J. McKenna Memorial Scholarship was awarded to:

Annie Breyak, B.A. student, Geology, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO

Annie Breyak, B.A. student, Geology, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO

Annie is a Senior in Geology at Colorado College. Her Senior thesis topic is “Paleoecology of Mammals Across the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary in the Denver Basin, Colorado.” Annie is working under the direction of Dr. Henry Fricke. Annie plans to determine changing dietary preferences that might have occurred across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary in the wake of the 66 Ma bolide impact. She will accomplish this through the study of changes in carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in mammalian tooth enamel. The isotopic signatures of ingested water and food are transferred to animal consumers and preserved in biogenic apatite, the mineral constituent of tooth enamel. Fossilized enamel can be used as a proxy for animal dietary preferences and water sources. Her preliminary work suggests that the bolide impact and subsequent reorganization of terrestrial ecosystems controlled the recovery dynamics of mammals, ultimately driving the radiation and rise of mammals.

Recent winner of the Philip J. McKenna Memorial Scholarship:


Mackenzie Boyd

Mackenzie Boyd

Mackenzie Boyd and Emma Revenaugh

Mackenzie and Emma are undergraduate Geology majors at Colorado College, Colorado Springs. They are working under the direction of Dr. Henry Fricke.

Mackenzie’s topic of study is “Paleoecology of mammals across the K-Pg boundary in the southern Denver Basin.” Mackenzie’s research will study the isotopic properties of Late Cretaceous and Early Paleogene mammal teeth. She will determine carbon and oxygen isotope ratios of tooth enamel to infer taxonomic differences in ecology, particularly what each taxa was eating and drinking. She will be working with staff at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Emma’s topic of study is “Geochemical analysis of Alpine lakes in the Uinta Range, Utah, to characterize risk of eutrophication in Alpine lakes.” Emma will collect sediment and water samples from two lakes, one during early summer and the other in late summer. She will measure the form that nitrogen takes in sediment. She will determine dissolved nitrogen, nitrogen gas content, and nitrogen isotopic ratios in water samples as well as nitrogen isotopic ratios in sediment. Emma will be using facilities at the University of Minnesota-Duluth to determine isotope ratios.


Spencer Shaw, Colorado College
“Investigating Flow Regime Changes on Channel Morphodynamics, Fountain Creek, Colorado”

Nominated by Faculty