Most research begins simply: Ask an interesting question, go find the answer. So it was with Ohio State University doctoral student Dan Kelley, whose interest in Iceland's geology eventually took him to the barren island for two summers to map a complex network of geological features. Kelley, who finishes his dissertation this quarter, spoke more about his peculiar area of study.

Most research begins simply: Ask an interesting question, go find the answer. So it was with Ohio State University doctoral student Dan Kelley, whose interest in Iceland's geology eventually took him to the barren island for two summers to map a complex network of geological features. Kelley, who finishes his dissertation this quarter, spoke more about his peculiar area of study.

When I came to Ohio State, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I took a lot of math and science classes and stumbled upon geology. It's a nice combination of math, physics, chemistry and biology.

My research is on Icelandic volcanoes. There's a lot of volcanoes in Iceland because it's a portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that's exposed above sea level. It's volcanically active and has this rift system running across the island. There are eruptions every couple years or so.

For the most part, I'm collecting rocks and pieces of basaltic glass. A lot of these volcanoes were erupted under ice, when Iceland was covered with ice during the most recent glaciation. When the lava is erupted into the water, it quenches very quickly and forms a glass. It's good for chemical analysis, and it represents the chemistry of the liquid lava.

Field work is definitely one of the best parts. There's a lot of traveling involved. There's a lot of outdoor work. Even in the department, we run a lot of field trips for students up and down the Appalachians and out west.

Iceland is a pretty small place, about the same size as Ohio. There's the capital city of Reykjavik, and then that's about it. In the interior of the island, there's really not anything at all. You have to drive across rivers to get to some of the field sites - and then camp.

In terms of geology, Ohio is OK. There's some - it's just not very obvious, I guess. As you go further east, it becomes more apparent. Around Columbus, there's not much to see.

I've been married for four years. My wife is an anthropologist and teaches at Columbus State. Family who don't know about geology or anthropology think we both work together on dinosaur digs. [Laughs.]

My favorite thing about Columbus is that there's a lot to do - a lot of music to see, a lot of restaurants. And Buckeye football.

In my spare time, I like to play softball. I like to do anything outdoors. I play golf. I like to hike.

In the fall, I'm starting at Louisiana State. I'll be an instructor and the director of their field camp in Colorado. Most undergraduate geology programs require you to do a field school, so you go somewhere there's good geology and learn how to collect data in the field and map geological features.

If I were given a free research trip anywhere in the world, I'd pick places that are similar to the stuff I'm studying - but in nicer climates. The Galapagos Islands would be a place I'd like to go. And I've never been to Hawaii either.

The best advice I've ever received is not to worry too much about the things you can't control.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at jross@columbusalive.com.