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2010 - 2011 Distinguished Speakers

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Susan DeBari

Geology Department and Science Education Program, Western Washington University
Susan DeBari has a joint appointment in the Geology Department and the Science Education Program at Western Washington University. Her teaching and research efforts are split between both disciplines, with active research programs in subduction zone magmatism and effective learning strategies in introductory geology courses. She is involved in a NSF Math-Science Partnership whose goal is to reform K-12 science education in northwestern Washington through teacher professional development and improved teacher preparation programs. Susan teaches geology courses for undergraduate and graduate students, and science methods classes for future teachers.


Thomas Hickson

University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN
Tom Hickson teaches geology at the University of St. Thomas (in St. Paul, not the Virgin Islands, unfortunately) where he has helped to invigorate the geosciences through innovative curricular design, teaching, and undergraduate research. He is currently director of environmental science at St. Thomas, a program that he was instrumental in creating in 2008-09. He has attended a number of "On the Cutting Edge" workshops as both a participant and session leader, and he led the "Teaching Sedimentary Geology in the 21st Century" workshop in 2006. Tom's main efforts center on integrating in-depth, project-based experiences into his courses and the use of physical models to teach environmental geology, geomorphology, and sedimentology. He also is strongly committed to implementing real-world data into all of his courses and encouraging his students to 'think like geoscientists.'


Karin Kirk

Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
SUNY - Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY

Karin Kirk is a geoscience content developer at the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College and an adjunct faculty at SUNY Empire State College. Her SERC work focuses on developing and managing a network of educational web sites about pedagogic methods and teaching geoscience. She has convened workshops for the On the Cutting Edge faculty development program. Living in Bozeman, MT she also enjoys a career as a ski instructor, which was the source of her interests in how the affective domain influences student behavior. For SUNY, she teaches online courses in environmental geology and climate change.

Thomas R. Koballa, Jr.

University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Thomas R. Koballa, Jr. is a professor of science education in the Department of Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Georgia. Dr. Koballa holds a bachelor's degree in Biology and master's degree in Science Education from East Carolina University, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the Pennsylvania State University. He is past president of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and the recipient of the Association of Science Teacher Education's Outstanding Mentoring Award. He teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in science education and has authored or coauthored more than 60 journal articles and chapters. His current research foci include science teacher learning and mentoring.

Heather L. Petcovic

Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
Heather L. Petcovic holds a joint appointment in the Department of Geosciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education at Western Michigan University. Her research uses qualitative or mixed methods to investigate the thinking and skills ("geocognition") that underlie complex, field-based problem solving, such as bedrock mapping and water quality investigations. She is an Associate Editor for Research for the Journal of Geoscience Education, and a past Chair of the Geoscience Education Division of the Geological Society of America. Her teaching at WMU includes geology courses for preservice elementary and secondary teachers, and graduate-level courses in models of teaching and learning, college teaching methods, and science education research methods.

Wayne Powell

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, New York, NY
Wayne Powell is an Associate Professor and Chair of Geology at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He focuses on the development of earth science teacher-training programs that integrate neighborhood-based learning through partnerships with non-formal education organizations such as museums and parks. Based in New York City, Wayne is particularly interested in how urban resources (cultural, natural and professional) can be best used to overcome the challenges of inner-city education. In the past five years, he has been supported in these endeavors by four grants from NSF, and four grants from the New York State Education Department. Believing that active engagement in scientific inquiry is essential for both science students and science educators, Wayne maintains an active research program which focuses on applying petrological approaches to the understanding of processes such as ore genesis and taphonomy.

Eric Pyle

Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, VA
Eric J. Pyle has been an Associate Professor of Geology in the Department of Geology & Environmental Science at James Madison University since 2005, where he specializes in Geoscience Education issues, primarily at the secondary level. This includes extensive work with teachers of Earth science, with professional development and instructional materials as a focus. He worked as a science education specialist at WVU (1995-2004). A graduate of the UGA (science education), he worked as an Earth science teacher in North Carolina from 1986-1992, after receiving his MS from Emory University (Geology) and BS from UNC-Charlotte (Earth Science/Geology), concentrating on igneous/metamorphic petrology. A Past President of the West Virginia Science Teachers Association, he is currently the President-Elect of the Virginia Association of Science Teachers and 2nd Vice Chair of the Geoscience Education Division for GSA.

Leslie Reid

University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Leslie completed her Ph.D. in Geology in 2003 with a focus on field mapping, structural geology and tectonics. In 2007, she began a five-year position as the Tamaratt Teaching Professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary. As a result, her research interests re-focused on geoscience education, science literacy and student engagement. Leslie has extensive experience in teaching small and large classes (> 200 students) and implementing and evaluating instructional strategies to engage students (ie. in-class learning assessments and group projects) and improve learning outcomes. Leslie is also involved in a number of faculty professional development programs at the University of Calgary that focus on course redesign, peer mentoring and peer evaluation of teaching.
Talks (1 hour length)
Workshops (2 hours length)

Linda Reinen

Pomona College, Claremont, CA
Linda Reinen, Associate Professor of Geology, joined the Pomona College faculty in 1995. She has taught courses in geologic hazards, hydrogeology, neotectonics, structural geology, and research methods, and she received the Biggs Award for Excellence in Earth Science Teaching from the Geological Society of America in 2003. To promote active student participation in the learning process, she includes student-conducted research, quantitative reasoning, and numerical modeling in her courses. As part of her own research, she and her students investigate the mechanical behavior of crustal rocks using field-based, laboratory, and numerical methods.

Kristen St. John

James Madison University
Dr. Kristen St. John is an Associate Professor of Geology and Environmental Science at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. She is a marine sedimentologist and specializes in high latitude paleoclimate records, particularly reconstructing ice-rafting histories. She has participated in several scientific ocean drilling expeditions with ODP/IODP. Kristen is the lead scientist-educator on an NSF-funded project branded as Building Core Knowledge – Reconstructing Earth History. This project integrates research on Earth history and climate change in the development of curricular materials for undergraduate geoscience and general education courses. Kristen was also a lead instructor for the IODP teacher professional development program at sea, The School of Rock. Her undergraduate teaching responsibilities include: Earth Systems and Climate Change, Oceanography for Teachers, Earth Science for Teachers, and Physical Geology.


Barbara Tewksbury

Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
Barbara Tewksbury has taught geology at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY since 1978. She has spoken widely and published on effective teaching and geoscience education issues and has played a leadership role in the national geoscience education community for over fifteen years. She has given dozens of workshops to faculty in departments across the country and has been co-PI on a number of grants to offer workshops for geoscience faculty (including On the Cutting Edge). She is a Past President of the American Geological Institute, a Past President of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. In 1997, she was named New York State Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Michael Wysession

Washington University in St. Louis
Michael Wysession, Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, is a leading expert on using seismic imaging to determine the structure, composition and dynamics of Earth's mantle. He received the Presidential Faculty Fellowship and Packard Foundation Fellowship for his work. Wysession is a leader in geoscience education, as Chair of the Earth Science Literacy Initiative, Chair of Education and Outreach for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, lecturer in a 48-lecture video course on "How the Earth Works" with The Teaching Company, and author/writer of textbooks at middle school, high school, undergraduate and graduate levels.


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This year's speakers are cosponsored by Deep Earth Academy and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

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