Professor Carrie Schweitzer to Lead New Geology Degree Program
Professor Carrie Schweitzer has discovered hundreds of new species. Now, this research standout is leading students in a new degree program.
Carrie Schweitzer has always been interested in the things of Earth. The stuff that lies just below the surface of land and sea.
This professor of geology is no stranger to discovering a new species (or several hundred!). Now, the research standout is leading a new degree program at Kent State University at Stark.
The Bachelor of Arts in Geology is soon to become one of the more than 20 baccalaureate degrees that students can earn without leaving the Stark Campus. Kent State Stark students also have the opportunity to begin coursework in nearly 300 Kent State University degree programs.
“Geology is a field of study that doesn’t always occur to students because it is not taught in high schools,” said Schweitzer, Ph.D., who has taught the subject at the collegiate level for 20 years. “But, it is such an important field of study because it not only connects us to the past; it helps us predict what could happen with Earth in the future.”
Geologists, for example, can help determine how environmental issues, such as erosion, or certain practices, such as hydraulic fracturing, affect ground and water systems.
Growing up in the small village of Mantua, Schweitzer was inspired by her mother, an elementary school teacher, who fostered her interest in teaching. “Both of my parents liked the outdoors, which also probably influenced my life choices,” Schweitzer said.
Over the past 20 years, she has discovered and named more than 200 new species of decapods, an order of crustaceans that includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp.
She has been recognized for her contributions to the field and is a fellow of the Paleontological Society, an international organization devoted to the promotion of paleontology.
Always up for adventure, Schweitzer enjoys the outdoors and, of course, hiking and traveling to discover her many finds in North America, the Caribbean, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Asia and Eastern Europe.
Just as the leaves were turning hues of red and gold last year, Schweitzer and her Kent State Stark students went rock hunting. They lined their treasures in their specialized lab, located in the campus’ state-of-the-art Science and Nursing Building. The $17 million facility features contemporary labs that allow students to gain experiential learning through collaborative research with faculty.
One find that Johnathan Risden, a sophomore geology major, is particularly proud of is the discovery of the fossil of an extinct coral.
“I want to be a paleontologist one day,” said the 20-year-old from Coventry. “I want to understand what it was like here before us. Why are we here? Where did we come from? These are always questions that I’m seeking to answer.”
His professor shares that sense of wonder. “I like naming new species, documenting how they’ve changed, how each has evolved and why they are now extinct,” Schweitzer said.
“Every find is a hidden treasure that tells us a little more about the Earth’s story, which is our story to tell.”