CCSU now has the coolest sandbox (and it’s not just for playing in!)


[Introducing the new Augmented Reality Sandbox]

CCSU is now the only university in Connecticut with an Augmented Reality Sandbox. Part computer, part sand pile, this 100% educational (and fun!) set-up demonstrates a variety of geological phenomenon in real-time, including floods, volcanic eruptions, and glacier melts. Read about this new addition to the Geological Sciences Department here, and expect to get your time in the sandbox at the next university open house event!

Rocking Ireland for A Good Cause


[Dr. Piatek at Meteor Crater in Arizona during the 2016 field project]

Dr. Jen Piatek, our planetary geology specialist, is part of a project (funded through NSF’s IUSE: GEOPATHS program) titled “Engaging Students in Inclusive Geoscience Field Experiences via Onsite-Remote Partnerships”. This week, she joins a team of researchers from multiple universities [including Steven J. Whitmeyer and Eric Pyle (James Madison University), Christopher L. Atchison (University of Cincinnati), and Helen Crompton (Old Dominion)] and students for a week of field geology in western Ireland. The project’s goal is to identify techniques and technologies that can provide access to remote field sites for geoscience students with mobility limitations. The first field season took place this past May in northern Arizona (see above picture) with the same students – a video describing the project and the first season is also “live” this week as part of the “STEM for All” Video showcase. The video can be found at – please come by to leave comments, ask questions, and perhaps give the project a vote.

CCSU Once Again Rocks the Northeast Geological Society of America Conference!

[Corbin MacDonald and Nick Zygmont present their research this morning in Pittsburgh]

March brings with it not only Spring Break, but the Northeast regional conference of the Geological Society of America. Once again, CCSU is a dominant player, with 16 students and 3 faculty members in attendance. On the first morning of presentations, Corbin MacDonald and Nick Zygmont present research done on the geology of Pennsylvania (under the mentorship of department chairman Dr. Mark Evans). Read about Corbin’s research here and Nick’s research here. Dr. Evans is also presenting in this same session. His research is described here.



Are YOU Ready for the August 2017 Solar Eclipse?

[Partial phases from the 2006 Total Solar Eclipse in Egypt. Pictures by K. Larsen, using a proper solar filter]

Dubbed “The Great American Eclipse,” this amazing celestial event will be visible from Connecticut as a partial, not total, eclipse. This means that you need proper preparation to view it safely. CCSU astronomy professor Dr. Kristine Larsen is available to speak on this important topic at libraries, schools, and other public venues within 20 miles of CCSU between now and mid-August, free of charge, schedule permitting. Please send email to with the subject line “SOLAR ECLIPSE TALK.” At least two week’s notice is required for any talk. The venue needs to provide a projection screen and a projector that can be hooked up to a laptop (or equivalent facilities).

Students Offer Free Crash Course in the Night Sky

Have you ever wanted to look through a telescope at the moon or another galaxy? If so, now’s your chance!

Join us for a free public Crash Course on the Night Sky, Monday through Thursday, December 5-8, 6:30 – 8 PM if skies are clear

Hosted by the students of AST 278 Observational Astronomy

Take the elevators to the 5th floor of Copernicus Hall at CCSU and follow the signs. For more information, see


AAPG Distinguished Speaker to visit CCSU

Central Connecticut State University Department of Geological Sciences will host

 AAPG Distinguished Lecturer Per Kent Pedersen
Associate Professor, Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada



When:                   Friday November 11, 2016

Time:                   2:00 PM

Where:                 Central Connecticut State University,  211 Copernicus Hall (Planetarium)

Where to park:     Copernicus Garage (see map at                       

Food and Refreshments will be provided

For the abstract of this talk see

For more information on the speaker, see


A Teachable Moment: Geological Sciences Now Has a Monitoring Well Field!

[Upper left: Students examining core samples; Lower left: Students braving the cold to participate in hands-on learning; Right: a well being drilled]

We did it! We had a successful drilling day with great thanks to Michael Ainsworth and Kaitlyn Weider and staff at HRP Associates in Farmington, Mark Schock and staff at Glacier Drilling in Durham, Seth Molofsky at the Environmental Professionals of Connecticut (EPOC), and Jim Grupp at CCSU Facilities. We also thank Jim Mulrooney and Dean Malhas for providing coffee, pastries and lunch for the day.

Five 20-foot-deep monitoring wells were put in on campus near Copernicus Hall. With a pre-existing well, that makes a six-monitoring-well field. Dr. Oyewumi is thrilled that he will now be able to teach students work-force ready skills such as determining groundwater flow, pumping tests, aquifer characterization, and water chemistry.

Drilling day started at 7 am when Katie arrived to set up the safety perimeter around the drill sites. By 8 am, the driller was there and had started the first hole. About four feet down, the drill started making a really bad sound and virtually stopped. This was not good. It turned out to be a couple of chucks of steel that we had no idea as to the origin of. Jim Grupp said that it was not a pipe (good) and gave the go-ahead to continue to drill. After that, all went smoothly and by 4:30, five wells were drilled, cleaned, lined, and capped. Mark Schock even brought in a smaller rig called a Geoprobe that basically drilled 5 feet in about one minute to show how it was done.

From 8 am to noon, Field Methods class observed the drilling and sampling process. Katie and Mike explained every step. Mark even took time out from the drilling to explain the entire drilling process. The students learned an incredible amount. We look forward to incorporating this well field into our Hydrogeology and Environmental Geochemistry as well as Field Methods and introductory labs.

Again we thank all involved for donating their time and effort for all of the planning involved and especially on drilling day. Thanks to EPOC for contributing $3000 to the cost of the drilling. For an extended photo gallery as well as a complete list of “thank yous,” please see our Department website:


– Mark Evans



Introducing the New GPS Club President


[Outgoing president Jessica Johnson (in green) gives a boost to incoming president Sara Poppa (in blue)]

[Editor’s note: The Geology and Planetary Sciences Club (GPS) held its officer elections in May. Graduating senior Jessica Johnson passed the rock hammer to Sara Poppa, the new GPS president. Sara’s comments follow below. We all look forward to her taking the reins of the student organization, and thank Jessica for her two years at the helm of the organization.]

This fall brings new and exciting adventures for me. I will be taking on the role of president for the Geology and Planetary Sciences club. I am both excited and proud to take on this role.  I cannot wait to work with everyone to make this a great year for the GPS Club. When I joined the club and the department at the beginning of the fall semester everyone made me feel so welcome and that inspired me to become more involved. I hope for this upcoming year I am able to do the same for everyone, including the new members that are to come. So make sure to bring a friend to our first meeting of the year because the more people there are the more opportunities will be available to us and more fun we will have doing what we all enjoy doing!

— Sara

Student Receives Two Awards

[Melissa Luna being congratulated by Department Chair Dr. Mark Evans and being presented an AIPG National Undergraduate Scholarship from Professor Emeritus Dr. Charles Dimmick]

In a recent department ceremony, Melissa Luna received two prestigious awards for her excellence in and service to the field of Geology. First, Melissa received a National Undergraduate Scholarship from the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG). The essay she wrote for the scholarship application will be published in an upcoming issue of The Professional Geologist. She wrote in part:

As a child, I have always wondered how the Earth came to be the dynamic planet that it is today. After countless visits to the Philippines, I was exposed to the effects of the Samar Earthquake as well as the aftermath of the Mount Pinatubo eruption, which gave rise to my love for geology. As I came to learn over the years, our society revolves around nature. We are constantly in demand for water, energy, and other resources that all depend on geology. By studying the true nature of our planet through both my academics and my travels, I have made it my goal to make a difference by inspiring others to join me in making our planet a more sustainable environment for generations to come.

Melissa has also served this past year as the President of CCSU’s Theta Zeta Chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the Earth Sciences Honor Society, and received the Tarr Award for her outstanding service to the organization.

Melissa will be attending graduate school at Wesleyan University this fall. As part of the Earth and Environmental Science Masters Program she will be studying cores from the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Congratulations to an amazing young woman!