NAGT Past Presidents Biographies
(M.S., B.S. University of Illinois Chicago) Aida was Science Department Chair at Maine East High School in Park Ridge, IL when she was elected NAGT Councilor at Large in 2008. Following her term as Councilor, she was elected 2nd Vice President. Aida was the first K-12 instructor to serve as NAGT President. During her time on the Executive Committee, the Next Generation Science Standards were under development. Aida co-led the NAGT review team for the new K-12 standards, and continued to focus on NGSS-ESS implementation efforts. Aida also worked to build strong, collaborative relationships between NAGT and other with geoscience education organizations including AGI, GSA, and NESTA. NAGT's first Earth Educators Rendezvous was held during Aida's tenure as NAGT Past President. Aida then served a three-year term as NAGT Secretary / Treasurer (2016-2018). Even after 12 years on the Executive Committee. Aida continued her involvement with NAGT, serving on the NAGT Webinar Committee as the co-lead of the NGSS-ESS Implementation program.
(Ph.D. Scripps Institute of Oceanography; AB Oberlin College) Beth's first contact with NAGT was when she was a student at Oberlin College and awarded an NAGT Field Scholarship to attend a Field Camp in Scotland and Wales. Following completion of her doctoral degree, Beth began her teaching career at the School of Art Institute in Chicago as their only geoscience professor. In the 1990s Beth attended a teaching workshop at GSA and subsequently a one-week workshop on innovative course development. Enjoying these interactions with other geoscience professionals, Beth accepted nomination to be 2nd Vice Chair and later Chair of the GeoEd division of GSA. Beth worked closely with NAGT leadership, and was impressed with NAGT's operational style. Shortly after her GeoEd term of office ended, Beth accepted nomination to become 2nd Vice President of NAGT. As NAGT President she was involved with transitioning JGE publishers and NAGT Advocacy initiatives, including developing position statements and writing letters to state legislative bodies regarding geoscience teaching, the teaching of climate science and evolution.
(Ph.D. University of Illinois; B.S. Principia College) For twenty-five years Janis worked for the Illinois State Geological Survey. Her involvement with NAGT began in the mid-1990s when she was asked by the Survey to develop curriculum materials and workshops for middle school teachers who were to address new Earth science standards that had been approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Janis subsequently became very active in the Central Section serving as its secretary/treasurer, 1stvice president, 2nd vice president, and president. It was after Janis joined the faculty of Principia College in 2000 that she became active in NAGT at the national level. During her term as NAGT president the Journal of Geoscience Education transitioned into an online publication, the Geo2YC division was established, and NAGT began publishing In the Trenches. Following her year as past-president, Janis was elected to serve as NAGT secretary/treasurer. (July, 2013)
(Ph.D., M. Eng. Cornell University; B.S. United States Military Academy) David began his teaching career at his alma mater, the United States Military Academy. After serving in the U.S. Army and completing a post-doc at Cornell University, he joined the faculty at the University of Akron in 1999. David's research interests in geoscience pedagogy resulted in numerous publications in the Journal of Geoscience Education and his participation as a speaker in the NAGT Distinguished Lecture Series. David accepted the nomination to be NAGT 2nd Vice President in 2007. During his term as NAGT President, David's leadership resulted in a significant revision of the NAGT Constitution and Bylaws, and a successful editorial transition at JGE. Following his term as President, David accepted a three-year appointment as the founding editor of In the Trenches, NAGT's 4-color, print publication, bringing to fruition his idea that NAGT should develop a publication that addressed topics of interest to geoscience teachers and complemented the scholarly articles published in JGE. (September, 2013)
(Ph.D. University of California, Riverside; B.A. Pomona College) In the mid 1990's Eric's interest in the emerging field of research on learning and cognition led him to the Journal of Geoscience Education and membership in NAGT. In the early 2000s Steve Semken encouraged Eric to take on leadership positions in NAGT, first as a Councilor-at-Large, then as 2nd Vice President. Eric's five years in NAGT leadership roles was a time of significant change for NAGT. For the first time, the NAGT Executive Director had a formal office at the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) with several paid employees. This approach provided a greater level "professionalism" to the organizations, but also resulted in financial challenges. Members of the Executive Committee had to pay much closer attention to budgeting. Following his presidential year, Eric remained active with NAGT as a Lecturer for the Distinguished Lecturer Program and as a NAGT representative in conversations with the American Geological Institute (AGI) regarding joint publications. After serving a term as president of AGI (2014-15), Eric returned to NAGT service by taking on the role of Interim Editor for the Journal of Geoscience Education in 2019.
(Ph.D., M.S. University of Texas, Austin; B.A. The College of Wooster) Karen was a professor of geology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire when she was elected to the position of NAGT Councilor-at-Large in 1998. After serving a second term as a Councilor-at-Large, and participating in NAGT's Distinguished Speakers Program, Karen was nominated and subsequently elected NAGT 2nd Vice President. Her year as NAGT President was more challenging than expected because she was also appointed Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research at UW-Eau Claire. Karen facilitated approval of NAGT's position statement on the teaching of evolution, implemented use of a standardized form to address sponsorship requests. She also played a role in the search for an Executive Director that culminated in the hiring of Cathy Manduca, the shift to online management of membership functions, and improving budget management. Following her term as President, Karen remained active in NAGT, chairing the committee overseeing NAGT's Distinguished Speakers Program until 2011. (September, 2013)
(Ph.D. University of Wyoming; B.A. Carleton College) It was during Scott's eight years as a professor at Lewis and Clark College in Idaho that he became an active NAGT member. Shortly after he was elected to a three-year term as an NAGT Councilor-at-Large in 2000, Scott joined the faculty at Western Washington University teaching both geology majors and pre-service science teachers. Scott was elected 2nd Vice President of NAGT in 2004. During his time as Vice President and President, he helped facilitate a successful Executive Director transition. He also worked to enhance communication with the regional sections by attending three regional section meetings. After his term as President, Scott remained an active participant in the Northwest Section, assuming the position of section Treasurer in 2012. The Executive Committee of NAGT recognized Scott's contributions to NAGT in 2013 when he was awarded the Robert Christman Distinguished Service Award. (August 2013)
(M.A., Ph.D. Harvard University; A.B. Princeton University) A retired Lieutenant, U.S. Corps of Engineers, Geoff served as a faculty member at Albion College and then at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he also served as department chair. In 1997 he joined the faculty of the College of William Mary, first as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and then as Provost. A member of NAGT since the early 1970s, it was during his time as Provost that he was asked to serve as NAGT president. Geoff's administrative skills, which he developed as a dean and provost, allowed him to play a significant role during a time when NAGT was changing its budgeting, investing, and administrative procedures. Following his term as NAGT president, Geoff continued to serve the organization by taking on a leadership role in NAGT's Building Strong Departments program. Following his retirement from the College of William and Mary, Geoff was appointed president of the Geological Society of America Foundation in 2010. (July, 2013)
(M.S., Ph.D. California Institute of Technology; B.A. Williams College) Cathy became a member of NAGT after hearing a talk by Barb Tewksbury and visiting the NAGT Booth at a GSA meeting. Not long after she accepted the position of Director at the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College, a call from Ed Geary lead to Cathy's nomination as Second Vice President. During her year as president, Cathy sought to more fully engage sections with the national organization, increase attendance at NAGT Council meetings, increase NAGT collaboration with AGI and AGU, and reinvigorate the Distinguished Speakers Program. During her time on the executive Committee, Cathy also served as NAGT Webmaster, helped facilitate an Executive Director transition and implement the Teaching in the Field Initiative. Following her term as President, Cathy continued her involvement with NAGT activities. She was appointed Executive Director in 2007, a position she held until 2019. Cathy was named the NAGT Robert Christman Distinguished Service Awardee in 2020. (June, 2020)
(Ph.D., M.S., Cornell University; B.S. Stanford University) After completing his doctorate, Ed returned to California to become a professor at San Jose State University. In 1991 he was appointed the Director of Education for the Geological Society of America. During his eight years at GSA, he interacted with Dottie Stout and many other members of the NAGT leadership team. Shortly after Ed accepted the position of Director of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education at Colorado State University in 2000, he was asked to serve as 2nd Vice President of NAGT. In the early 2000s NAGT was undergoing many changes. Ed spearheaded the drafting of NAGT's Strategic Plan and the discussions which resulted in the online publication of the Journal of Geoscience Education. Following his term as President, Ed remained active in NAGT programs, participating as a speaker in the Distinguished Speakers Program while serving as the Senior Science Education Program Manager for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. (September, 2013)
(Ph.D. University of California at San Diego, Scripps Institute of Oceanography; M.S. University of Miami; B.A. Middlebury College) Jill became an NAGT member soon after beginning her tenure as a professor at Pacific Lutheran University in 1988. In the late 1990s Jill attended a 5-day NAGT sponsored workshop at the College of William & Mary facilitated by Barb Tewksbury and Heather MacDonald. Soon after, she received a phone call asking her to accept nomination to the position of NAGT Councilor-at-Large. The next year Jill was elected NAGT 2nd Vice President. During her year as President, Jill played a leadership role in the national search which resulted in the hiring of Ian MacGregor, NAGT's 2nd Executive Director. She also worked closely with colleagues at the American Geological Institute, in the development of a joint AGI-NAGT Environmental Geology textbook. Following her year as NAGT President, Jill continued to work with AGI and NAGT colleagues on the textbook project which resulted in the 2010 publication of Living with Earth. (September, 2013)
Steven C. Semken
(Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology; M.S. University of California Los Angeles; S.B. Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Prior to joining the faculty at Arizona State University in 2003, Steve was a faculty member at Diné College, the 2-year tribal college of the Navajo Nation. It was during his tenure at Diné College that he became an active member of the Southwest section, serving a term as its president and organizing section meetings. In the early 1990s Steve hosted a field trip for a Southwest section meeting that was held in Durango, Colorado in conjunction with the mid-year meeting of the NAGT Executive Committee. Soon after, Steve was asked to be one of the speakers for the NAGT Distinguished Lecture Program and serve as a NAGT Councilor-at-Large. Steve was then elected to serve as 2nd vice president, 1st vice president and then president. One of NAGT's youngest presidents he was also only the second full-time, two-year college instructor to serve in this role. One of the challenges Steve faced during his year as president was the appointment of a new editor for the Journal of Geoscience Education following Jim Shea's twenty-five year tenure. (July, 2013)
(M.S., Ph.D. University of Washington; B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara) Greg joined the faculty of California State University, Sacramento in 1978 and for more than 35 years he has at various times served the university as a professor, department chair, Director of General Education, and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. Greg became an active member of the Far Western section of NAGT early in his teaching career, serving in various elected positions between 1984 and 1991, when he served a two-year term as president. Greg was elected to serve the national association as one of the Councilors-at-Large in 1993 and he was asked to serve as 2nd Vice President in 1996. Following his term as NAGT president, Greg served three years as NAGT Secretary/treasurer and then as Chair of the OEST Award Committee. During his term as Secretary/treasurer he played a key role in encouraging the members of the NAGT Executive Committee to diversify its approach to investment of NAGT funds to include stock mutual funds. The FWS recognized Greg's teaching excellence and service to the section with the awarding of the Robert W. Webb Award in 1998. The national association recognized him in 2010 when he was awarded the NAGT Robert Christman Distinguished Service Award.
John R. Wagner
(Ph.D. University of South Carolina; M.A., M.Ed. Temple University; B.S. Muhlenberg College) John was a secondary school teacher from 1970 until 1973. In 1976 he joined the faculty of Clemson University and for more than 30 years served Clemson's Department of Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences as a professor and also as the director of Clemson's Geology K-12 Outreach Programs. John became active in the Southeastern section of NAGT during the 1980s and attended NAGT Council meetings as a section representative. His desire to build greater support for sections and greater connections between sections and the national association was a motivating factor in his willingness to serve as NAGT president. During his term, the NAGT Constitution and Bylaws were updated, the section liaison program was strengthened and the Executive Committee reaffirmed their commitment to hold the mid-year meeting in conjunction with a section meeting. Following his term as NAGT president, John served for ten years as the NAGT OEST Award committee administrator, compiling information on awardees and ensuring that plaques and benefits reached awardees in a timely fashion. (July, 2013)
(Ph.D., M.S. University of Iowa; A.B. Augustana College) Since one of John's professor's at Augustana College was Fritiof Fryxell, one of the founding members of NAGT, it is probably not surprising that during his tenure as a faculty member at Lawrence University (1968-1996) he became an active member of the Central section of NAGT serving as its president and organizing field trips for section meetings. It was not long after John participated on one of Dottie Stout's geological tours of Great Britain, that Dottie (1991, NAGT president) asked him to become a national officer. During his term as president the associations name was changed from the National Association of Geology teachers to its present name, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and NAGT began to sponsor early career workshops at the annual GSA meeting. On of John's lasting memories was the mid-year meeting of the Executive Committee that was held concurrently with a Southwest section meeting in Durango, Colorado. Steve Semken, who would become NAGT president in 2001, led a field trip for that conference. (July, 2013)
Noel Potter, Jr.
(Ph.D. University of Minnesota; M.A. Dartmouth College; A.B. Franklin and Marshall College) From 1969 until his retirement in 2006, Noel was a professor in the Department of Geology at Dickinson College where he also served three terms as department chair. His involvement with NAGT began in 1979 when Marv Kauffman, one of his professors at Franklin and Marshall asked him to review applications for NAGT Field Camp scholarships. Noel took over as director of the NAGT Summer Field Course Scholarship program in 1984 and for the next five years he served as the program's chief fund raiser and organized the screening of from 100 to 300 scholarship applicants annually. During this time he also served as a member of the oversight committee for the U.S.G.S./NAGT summer field internship program. It was therefore no surprise that in 1989 Noel was asked to serve as 2nd vice-president of NAGT. Following his year as NAGT president, Noel continued to regularly attend the annual NAGT Eastern section luncheon that is held in conjunction with GSA's Northeast section meeting and he currently serves as GSA's section meeting senior advisor. (July, 2013)
Bernard W. Pipkin
(Ph.D. University of Arizona; B.S., M.S., University of Southern California) Barney served in the U.S. Marine Corps at the end of WWII and was called back to service during the Korean conflict. This enabled him to go to USC on Public Law 316, the so-called GI Bill. After working for the Army Corps of Engineers and also as a geological consultant, he returned to his alma mater in 1969 where he became a professor and also served as an Assistant Dean. Barney became active in the Far Western Section and served as president. In 1984 he organized a highly successful FWS conference which involved a field trip to Catalina Island. Shortly thereafter, he was asked to take on the role of NAGT president. Even after his retirement from full-time teaching in 1993, Barney continued to be a regular participant in the field conferences of the FWS. In 1994, he was awarded the FWS Robert W. Webb Award for outstanding contributions to geoscience education and service to the section. Barney and his colleague Dee Trent wrote the first two editions of "Geology and the Environment," a widely used textbook on environmental geology. With the addition of two more collaborators it is now in its 5th Edition (July, 2013)
Marvin E. Kauffman
(Ph.D. Princeton University; M.S. NorthwesternUniversity; B.S. Franklin and Marshall College) From 1959 until he was appointed as the Executive Director of the American Geological Institute in 1985, Marv was a professor in the Department of Geology at Franklin and Marshall College. Marv's interest in undergraduate education and association with the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association, led to his participation in the early discussions that culminated with the implementation of the NAGT-USGS Cooperative Summer Field Training Program in 1965. In the 1970s and early 1980s Marv served as the second director of the NAGT summer field scholarship program: fundraising, publicizing, advertising, and evaluating applications. During his year as NAGT president and his subsequent position as the Executive Director of AGI, Marv played a critical leading role in the development and publication of the AGI-NAGT Laboratory Manual for Physical Geology in 1986. Now in its 9th edition, royalties from the sale of the lab manual continue to provide significant revenue supporting NAGT programs and operating budget. (July, 2013)
John R. Coash
(Ph.D. Yale University; B.A. Colorado College) John's connections to NAGT began while he was a faculty member at Bowling Green State University. He was instrumental in establishing the Central section and served as president of the section in 1957. Following his 17 years at Bowling Green State University, John served as Associate Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education in Science at the National Science Foundation. He was then appointed the founding Dean of Arts and Sciences at California State University, Bakersfield, a position he held until his retirement in 1987. During his tenure as Dean he served NAGT as president of the Far Western section and then in 1981 as national NAGT president. John's desire to expand and improve earth science teaching at all levels, to "open eyes" to the importance of geology in understanding changes within and on the earth (plate tectonics/climate change) and to encourage women to enter the field led him to take on leadership roles at both the section and national levels of NAGT. (July, 2013)
Robert W. Ridky
(M.S., Ph.D. Syracuse University; B.S. State University of New York) Bob joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 1973 with a joint appointment in geology and science education. He had been one of Bill Romey's (1973 NAGT President) students at Syracuse and soon after his arrival at the University of Maryland became an active participant in the NAGT Eastern section: attending conferences, developing a newsletter and serving as President. Along with many other NAGT members, Bob was an enthusiastic participant in the Earth Science Curriculum Project and the Crustal Evolution Education Project. In 1979 Bob agreed to serve as NAGT president. Arguably one of NAGT's youngest presidents, Bob helped establish the NAGT archives at Augustana University and developed the concept of a physical geology lab manual with exercises contributed by many authors. Working with colleagues at AGI, Bob saw his concept to fruition with the 1986 publication. Now in its 9th edition, the royalties from this joint AGI-NAGT lab manual continue to provide NAGT with a significant source of revenue. In 2002 Bob was appointed Coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey Educational Coordinator. In this role he reinvigorated the USGA/NAGT summer field internship program. Bob's dedicated service to NAGT was recognized in 2011 when he was named the recipient of NAGT's Robert Christman Award for Distinguished Service. (July, 2013)
William D. Romey]
(Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley; A.B. Indiana University) Bill began his teaching career as a member of the faculty at Syracuse University with a joint appointment in the Department of Geology and Department of Science Teaching. He then spent time as an exchange professor at the Academy of Science in the USSR and the Geologisk Museum in Oslo. In 1969 he became the director of the AGI Earth Science Curriculum Project, which involved many NAGT members. Bill returned to full-time teaching when he joined the faculty of St Lawrence University in 1972. Although he had been an active NAGT member since 1962, his role in leadership began his last year with the Earth Science Curriculum Project and he served as president during his second year at St. Lawrence University. During this time NAGT was outreaching to K-12 teachers and had approximately 3000 members. Following his retirement from the professoriate in 1993, Bill continued to share his enthusiasm for the Earth sciences as a "lecturer on the high seas" working for Cunard, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and several other cruise lines. Bill's exceptional contributions to the "stimulation of interest in the Earth sciences" were recognized by NAGT in 2006 when he was the recipient of the Neil Miner Award. (July, 2013)
George R. Rapp, Jr.
(Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University; B.A. University of Minnesota) Rip joined NAGT shortly after he began his teaching career at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Soon after he joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota system in 1965 he chaired the NAGT membership committee. As NAGT President in 1969, Rip spearheaded a membership drive developing and distributing NAGT brochures. He inaugurated the Past Presidents' Breakfast at the annual Geological Society of America meeting, an annual event that is now in its 44th year. Rip's support of geoscience education was not limited to his involvement with NAGT. He was instrumental in getting GSA to establish one-day conference passes which facilitated participation in the GSA annual meeting for K-12 teachers. Rip's administrative skills were recognized by the University of Minnesota system and he became the founding dean of two colleges. In 1995 was named a Regents Professor, recognition accorded 1% of the University of Minnesota faculty. (August, 2013)