I am currently in my second year as a full-time (3:2) visiting assistant professor in the Earth and Environment department at Franklin and Marshall College. Courses I taught in the 2011-2012 school year are listed and described below:
GEO 110 – “Dynamic Earth”
This class focuses on the fundamental principles of geology, including plate tectonics, rock and mineral identifications, structure, sedimentology and sediment transport, hydrology, marine oceanography, meteorology, global climate cycles, and natural resources. Labs meet every week and students are required to turn in a complete lab report with written summary and fundamental quantitative analysis.
GEO/ENV 344 – “Global Change and Natural Resources”
This class is required for all Environmental Science majors and a popular elective for Environmental Studies and Geology majors. Although the course covers the Earth’s history we focus the majority of the semester on Quaternary climate and global change. Specific areas of interest include detailed analysis and reconstruction of the Vostok Ice Core records, understanding Milankovitch cycles and how they are used to tune records of climate, relative sea level change, proxies for reconstructing paleoenvironmental change, global change through the Last Glacial Maximum to present day conditions, and the projections for future global change. Students participate in seminar-style discussions, the quantitative analysis of proxy day and climate reconstructions, formal debates and oral presentations on current climate issues and socio/political impacts. The laboratory session is focused on quantitative analysis.
GEO/ENV 372 – “The Sea Also Rises: Historical Perspectives and 21st Century Projections of Sea Level.”
We begin with the history of sea-level science, including past techniques of measuring global sea level and reconstructing sea-level chronologies. We will define relative sea level (RSL), focusing on differentiating the eustatic, isostatic, tectonic, and local components. Students will analyze peer-reviewed scientific papers and published datasets on sea-level change throughout Earth’s history. The laboratory exercises will include both written critical assessment of scientific literature and quantitative analysis. Students will study various biological and chemical RSL proxies, including foraminifera, pollen, diatoms, and stable isotopes. Relevant topics will also include: micropaleontology, stable isotopic analysis, radiocarbon chronologies, paleoecology, paleoenvironmental change, hurricanes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. We conclude with projections of 21st century sea-level rise and potential environmental/socio-political implications.
GEO/ENV 490 – “Independent Studies” or “Directed Readings”
I have one student working with me on a two-semester independent study on sediment transport in gravel-bedded streams and one student working on a spring semester independent study on reconstructing sea-level change. I also have a student taking a directed reading on paleoecology.