• Dr. Julie Stein gives a seminar talk

    Dr. Julie Stein, an alumna, Executive Director of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington, gives a talk for the department's seminar series, which hosts over 25 speakers a year.

  • Dan Rogers, Director of Environmental Affairs at Amsted Industries, Inc., presents his research to a large crowd of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and industry members as part of the department's annual seminar series.

  • Movie night in dinosaur park

    The department and the Campus Activities Board hosted a movie night featuring Jurassic World - Fallen Kingdom. Attendees came face-to-face with a life-sized Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and a Utahraptor all while enjoying an outdoor movie experience!

The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Western Michigan University sponsors a Seminar Series, student proposal sessions and thesis and dissertation defenses. On this page, you will find details about department events like Advisory Council meetings, Seminar Series, thesis and dissertation proposals and defenses and other recurring and non-recurring events. See the information provided below for a list of dates, topics and descriptions. Check back frequently for updates!


Monday, Oct. 19 - Stephen Pekar, professor of paleoceangraphy, paleoclimatology, and Antarctic glacial history at Queens College in New York will present “Ice-Volume Changes During Times of Elevated Atmospheric CO2: Looking Back to our Future(?)”. Dr. Pekar is a Queens native, growing up in the Rockaways and attending Queens College, first as a 20th century music composition major before receiving a BA in Education. He received his Ph.D. in Geology from Rutgers University and was a research post-doctoral scientist at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University for three years, before becoming a professor at Queens College.  He thinks of scientists as detectives, trying to collect clues to unravel mysteries and puzzles about our planet. For him, geologists are also like time travelers; detectives who go back in time to recreate distant long-lost worlds that are so different from our modern world that they would rival any sci-fi thriller in terms of their uniqueness and are unfamiliar to what we know today.  In addition, he tries to decipher time intervals when greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide) were higher than today. He is enthralled with exploring and learning about new places and ideas.  Dr. Pekar has traveled to nearly 60 countries in all “eight” continents, working in six countries—ranging from archaeology in France, grape picking in Germany, movie extra in China, to house pianist in a restaurant in Israel.

Monday, Oct. 26 - No seminar; GSA conference week

Monday, Nov. 2Basil Tikoff, professor of structural geology and tectonics at UW-Madison, and Tim Shipley, professor at the Department of Psychology at Temple University, will present "Fieldwork with Janus: Evaluating uncertainty in geological observations and interpretations." Dr. Tikoff is a quantitative field geologist who enjoys working on how deformation occurs on a variety of different levels within the Earth’s tectonic plates.  Consequently, he tends to work a lot on shear zones.  His research group uses a variety of tools to address questions associated with structural geology and tectonics: Geological field mapping, kinematic modeling, microstructural analysis, geomagnetism (paleomagnetism and AMS), statistics, and gravity surveys. Dr Shipley’s research broadly focuses on spatial cognition and learning. He applies formal methods from his previous research on object and event perception to understand the perceptual and cognitive processes subserving navigation and visualization. His recent work, perception and learning in spatial visualization, is part of a project that aims to support undergraduate geology education with a longer-term goal of understanding the cognitive processes that are critical for spatial reasoning and thus support STEM education in general for both K-12 and undergraduate students.

Monday, Nov. 9 - A seminar on lake sediments and paleoclimate is being scheduled. Check back for more details to come soon.  The presenter is a friend of Mine Dogan from Turkey.  We are waiting on a title and name.  She will make the presentation from Turkey, so questions will experience a time delay.

Monday, Nov. 16Julie Brigham-Grette, professor of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will present “The Impact of Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Russia, on our Knowledge of Polar Climate: This changes everything”. Dr. Brigham-Grette’s research interests are focused on the stratigraphy, sedimentology, and chronology of geologic systems that record the climate evolution and sea level history of the Arctic since the mid-Pliocene. Most of her research program is aimed at documenting the global context of paleoenvironmental change across “Beringia”, i.e., the Bering Land Bridge, stretching across the western Arctic from Alaska and the Yukon into NE Russia including the adjacent marginal seas. Starting 3 decades ago with fieldwork on the sea level history and glacial stratigraphy of vast Arctic coastal plains and coastal environments in comparison with regional alpine glaciation, she is now focused on the integration of records from marine and lacustrine systems. Since 1991, her group has participated in nine field expeditions to remote regions of Arctic Russia, and she was co-chief scientist in 2002 of an expedition on the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, taking sediment cores from the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Dr. Brigham-Grette is the US Chief Scientist of the El’gygytgyn Lake Scientific Drilling project, a $10M multinational field program leading to the first unprecedented recovery in 2009 of a 3.6 Myr record of paleoclimate from the terrestrial Arctic. Julie grew up in this part of Michigan.

Monday, Nov. 30 – Alan Kehew, professor of geosciences at Western Michigan University will present a semi-technical seminar featuring some of his best photos of the last 50 years. Al served as chair of this department, head of the Michigan Geological Survey, and has been at WMU since 1986. He previously worked at the U. North Dakota and the North Dakota Geological Survey.

Our virtual fall seminars will typically take place on Mondays from 4-5 pm. Please contact Kathy Wright if you need the invitation to the seminar link.