Evolution of Earth Systems Research

Ortiz photo by TThe Evolution of Earth Systems Research (Climate Change, Paleoecology and Evolution, Crustal Processes) program is designed to provide M.S. and Ph.D. students with the technical knowledge required for the study of a wide range of geological, evolutionary, and climatological problems seen in the context of how these processes operate throughout deep time.


The Department has a long and vibrant history of research in climate change, evolution, and crustal processes. How life has shaped Earth and Earth shaped life is one of the grand research questions. Over several decades the Department of Earth Sciences has established itself as an internationally known leader in paleoenvironments and evolution. Half the faculty in this research area are specialists in a variety of invertebrates, vertebrates, and protists that have characteristics especially useful in the determination of climatic, evolutionary, and ecological change over time. Both foraminifera (marine) and ostracode (non-marine) assemblages are particularly sensitive to environmental and climatic change. In the Department, the parallel use of marine and non-marine species as indicators of environmental stability and change over the last few million years has shed much light on the character of environmental change happening today. Additionally faculty in this area have been instrumental in detailing the relationships between evolution, extinction, and radiation of the decapod crustaceans and are recognized as world leaders in the study of the evolution, biogeography, paleoecology, and functional morphology of decapod crustaceans. Another core of faculty also do research on crustal processes related to tectonics, continental growth, surface processes and landscape evolution.


David Hacker (Professor, Trumbull Campus) – Volcanic Stratigraphy, Structural Geology, Field Mapping

Rod Feldmann (Professor Emeritus, Kent Campus) – Invertebrate Paleontology, Biostratigraphy, Biogeography (Decapod Research)

Timothy Gallagher (Assistant Professor, Kent Campus - Biogeochemistry, Sedimentary Geology, Soil Science

Daniel Holm (Professor, Kent Campus) – Structural Geology, Tectonics, Precambrian Geology

Joseph Ortiz (Professor, Kent Campus) – Marine Processes, Water Quality (Paleoclimate and Water Quality Research)

Carrie Schweitzer (Professor, Stark Campus) – Paleobiogeography; Decapod Systematics and Evolution (Decapod Research)

Alison Smith (Professor, Kent Campus) – Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions, Paleolimnology (Paleolimnology Research)

Allyson Tessin (Assistant Professor, Kent Campus) - Oceanography, Biogeochemistry, Sedimentary Geology

Neil Wells (Professor, Kent Campus) – Sedimentology, Vertebrate Taphonomy


  • Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
  • Sedimentary Petrology
  • Systematic Invertebrate Paleontology I
  • Tectonics and Orogeny
  • Geophysics
  • Paleoceanography
  • Marine Processes
  • Cenozoic Climate Change
  • Economic Geology
  • Paleolimnology
  • Environmental Core and Well Logging
  • Systematic Invertebrate Paleontology II
  • Principles of Geochemistry
  • Natural Disasters and Geologic Hazards
  • Paleoecology
  • Carbonate Rocks and Evaporites
  • Vertebrate Paleontology