Indiana State University Newsroom

Undergrad takes advantage of Indiana State’s opportunities

August 31, 2015

In his first year at Indiana State University, Matt Bly, now a sophomore earth and environmental science major from Towanda, Ill., has built a resume that would compete with most upperclassmen.

On a tour of the science building during freshman orientation last year, Bly met Tony Rathburn, an Indiana State geology professor, and later contacted him to discuss the possibility of helping with the aquariums and conducting research in the labs.

"(Bly) has fully embraced the concept that classroom learning is just the beginning of the opportunities offered by ISU," Rathburn said.

Bly's gateway into many of his freshman academic experiences was paleoceanography research with Rathburn. From Bly's involvement in the environmental science club to presentations for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, to being in charge of the live aquarium/terrarium outreach display, he has had a hand in various parts of the earth and environmental systems department.

"As a result of his work ethic, sincere interest and willingness to spend the necessary time in the lab to learn techniques, I chose him to be one of two undergraduates to participate on a research/training expedition off the coast of San Diego," Rathburn said. "Only weeks after taking his first class as a college student, Matt was working on a research ship side-by-side with marine science researchers and graduate students from Scripps Institution of Oceanography."

According to Rathburn, most students don't become researchers until their sophomore or junior year, but Bly's work ethic is what made these opportunities available to him.

"Matt has taken advantage of learning opportunities in the lab, the field, in the community and on campus," Rathburn said.

Even outside his experiences in his field of study, Bly is very involved on campus and the Terre Haute community. He holds leadership positions in multiple organizations. As the vice president of recruitment for Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, the social media chairman for the Interfraternity Council and an SGA senate member, Bly is a member of multiple groups that engage his interests.

"In high school, I wasn't at the top of my class. I focused on football and baseball, but when I came to college, I got really into my research and my other activities and I kind of just hit the ground running," Bly said.

He said he hopes to graduate a year early and attend graduate school. But before then, in November, he will be traveling to Baltimore to present his research to the Geologic Society of America. "I love working in the lab; that's definitely my favorite. It's awesome. It's tedious and it's hard work but seeing the results, it's just fun for me," Bly said.

Not all first-year college students put this much work into their education so soon after arriving on campus. However, Bly said he feels this effort is critical to making the most out of one's time in college and building experiences that help students achieve their goals.

"I would tell freshmen to talk to faculty, that's a great way to get involved," Bly said. "Join a club and pursue what you're interested in. If you want to do something, find a small way to start and you never know where the opportunities will take it."


Photos: -- Matt Bly, second from left, poses with visiting scholar Jorge Cardich, far left, geology professor Tony Rathburn, third from left, and some of his students. (Rachel Keyes/Indiana State University Photography Services) -- Matt Bly poses for a photograph while visiting Scripps Institution of Oceanography last fall. -- Matt Bly talks to elementary school students about oceanography. -- Matt Bly works in the lab at Indiana State University.

Contact: Tony Rathburn, professor of geology, Indiana State University, 812-237-2269 or

Writer: Haley Sluboski, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or