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Earth-Shaking Research

Most kids want to be doctors, vets, police officers, or teachers when they grow up. Shaimaa Abdelhaleem had different ideas.

Research  |  Oct 4, 2018  |  By Nevena Cvijetic
Shaimaa Abdelhaleem


Geoscience doctorate student Shaimaa Abdelhaleem is studying the potentiality of earthquakes in Las Vegas.  (Lonnie Timmons III/UNLV Creative Services)


Editor's Note: 

The Graduate College is hosting the third annual Graduate Showcase on Oct. 12, highlighting some of the best and brightest students from across campus who have competed for the opportunity to present their research at this event during UNLV’s Research Week.

Childhood dreams turned into life’s work are few and far between, but that’s exactly what Shaimaa Abdelhaleem did when she pursued her childhood aspirations. As a second-year geoscience doctoral student at UNLV, she continues to exude her passion.

“Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a geologist,” she said. “I just love it.”

Pursuing dreams is not for the fainthearted. As an international student moving to the United States from Egypt, Abdelhaleem experienced culture shock. She credits her advisor, geoscience professor Wanda Taylor, for helping her navigate a different way of life.

Now, Abdelhaleem is ready to share her research at the third annual Graduate Showcase on Oct. 12. Her research about the potential of earthquakes in Las Vegas can directly impact the local community.

Ups and Downs

“We have some ups and downs in Vegas that we think are actual cracks in the ground so we are trying to evaluate if these fractures will host earthquakes in the future,” she said.

With five major fault lines in Las Vegas, Abdelhaleem is taking initiative to conduct innovative research about potential earthquakes in the valley.

“Studying earthquakes in Las Vegas through physical properties and characterizing the compaction in a basin has never been done before,” she said. “We are trying to study compaction of the ground, which would tell us if these fractures can host earthquakes in the future.”

Funded by Clark County and the Nevada Petroleum and Geothermal Society, her research has the potential to influence implementation of regulations to prevent earthquake hazards in Las Vegas and keep the community a safe place to live.

“In the metropolitan area, earthquakes can be dangerous if they are big enough. Knowing whether there is a potential for earthquakes in Las Vegas directly impacts people,” said Abdelhaleem.