Dr. Mark Evans is a Fine Fellow


[Mark Evans and his wife, Cheri, on Mt. Evans (appropriately named) in Colorado]

In Spring 2017, Dr. Mark Evans was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. As described on the GSA website:

“Society Fellowship is an honor bestowed on the best of our profession by election at the spring GSA Council meeting. GSA members are nominated by existing GSA Fellows in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic, and library responsibilities.”

One of Dr. Evans nominators, Dr. Charlie Onasch of Bowling Green State University says of Dr. Evans “Mark Evans is a leading authority on the nature and evolution of paleofluids in foreland fold-thrust belts and the interrelationships between fluid flow, diagenesis, paleomagnetism, and both brittle and ductile deformation. He has also excelled in the training of young geologists through classroom experiences and involvement in geological research.” Dr. Evans currently has 38 journal publication, 22 of which are first-author, and 117 meeting abstracts, 35 of which are with undergraduate student first-authors.

Dr. Evans was similarly elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London in 2012. The Geological Society of London is the first geological society, established in 1811.

The Geological Sciences Department at CCSU congratulates Dr. Evans on this prestigious accomplishment!


Meet the Rock Stars, Part 10: Dr. Kristine Larsen


Name:   Dr. Kristine Larsen

Title: Professor

Year Started at CCSU: 1989

Courses Taught: AST 113 The Cosmos, AST 209 Stellar and Galactic Astronomy, AST 278 Observational Astronomy, AST 418 Astrophysics, AST 470 Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology, FYS 104: First Year Seminar [topics include The Science of Middle-earth, The Science of The Walking Dead, Cultural Astronomy], GSCI 102 Earth and the Human Environment, HON 120 Natural Science and Society, ISCI 118 Women’s Contributions to Science, SCI 111 Elementary Physical/Earth Science

Current research projects: My research is in several different areas:

1) Variable stars: student-centered research involves the classification of individual variable stars through their light curves and physical properties; observations of sunspots and variable stars are submitted to the American Association of Variable Star Observers (of which I am currently President);

2) Science pedagogy: includes projects enhancing the preparation of science teachers and combating misconceptions in science, as well as conducting workshops in the use of a medieval astrolabe for teachers, students, and scholars in other disciplines;

3) Science and Popular Culture: myriad projects involving identifying and critiquing the use of science and depictions of both scientists and the scientific method in literature (including the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert Heinlein, Phillip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, and Andrzej Sapkowski), television (including Doctor Who, Lost, The Walking Dead, and Dominion), and film (including the Resident Evil series).

Favorite book: No contest here – The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien’s sweeping creation myth

Favorite film: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Favorite scientific term: syzygy

Something my students don’t know about me: During my first year as an undergraduate at CCSU I performed the part of Magenta in a live Rocky Horror company in Manchester. Every Saturday night at midnight we would perform the film live while the film itself played above us.

Meet the Rock Stars, Part 9: Dr. Oluyinka Oyewumi


[Dr. Oyewumi poses with our university logo. Yinka is the newest full-time faculty member in our Department, and certainly the most enthusiastic!]

Name:  Dr. Yinka Oyewumi

Title:   Assistant Professor

Year Started at CCSU:  2013

Courses Taught:  Environmental Geology, Environmental Geology lab, Earth and Human Environment, Hydrogeology, Environmental Geochemistry, Field Method (co-taught with Drs. Wizevich and Evans), Soil Science (Fall 2016),  and Physical Geology (Fall 2016)

Current research projects: 1) Urban geochemistry of Lebanon, CT: Major and trace elements distribution in topsoil, 2) Heavy metals enrichment of stream sediments along Farmington River, Hartford County, CT

Favorite Book:  Bible

Favorite Movie: Mrs Doubtfire

Favorite Scientific Term: Residence time: average length of time an atom of a chemical species will reside in a reservoir.  It has a lot of significance in environmental geology, geochemistry and hydrogeology

Something my students don’t know about me:  I am an alumni of four different Universities


Meet the Rock Stars, Part 8: Dr. Marsha Bednarski


[Dr. Bednarski and friends in her office in Copernicus Hall]

Name: Marsha Bednarski

Title: Professor of Science Education

Year started at CCSU: 1998

Courses taught: Undergraduate and graduate courses in science education, including SCI 412: Elementary Science Methods, SCI 416: Technology in Science Education, SCI 417: Teaching Science in the Secondary School, SCI 420: History of Science, SCI 500: Science, Technology, and Society,  SCI 555: Teaching Science in the Elementary School,  SCI 595: Action Research,  SCI 598: Research in Science Education,  SCI 580: Topics in Science Education: Critters in the Classroom;  STEM 506: Problem Based Learning in STEM, STEM 520: STEM in the Physical Sciences, STEM 530: STEM in the Earth/Space Sciences, STEM 540: STEM in the Life Sciences

Current research projects: working with the new Next Generation Science Standards for implementation in the classroom.

Favorite book: The Thorn Birds

Favorite movie: City of Angels

Favorite Scientific Term : actually it is a phrase – “Science Never Sucks”

Something my students don’t know about me:  My students don’t know that I love scary movies.

Meet the Rock Stars, Part 7: Dr. Jen Piatek


 [Dr. Piatek dressed as the Apollo Program at the Halloween reception of the 2015 National Geological Society of America meeting]

Name: Jennifer Piatek (yes, I usually use ‘Jen’, but the full name works too. Middle initial only for publications, thank you.)

Title: Associate Professor

Year Started at CCSU: Fall 2007

Courses Taught: AST 208 Planetary Astronomy, AST 378 Comparative Planetology, AST 470 Exoplanets, GSCI 121 Dynamic Earth (nee Physical Geology), AST 112 Search for Life on Other Planets (nee Life in the Universe, or something like that), 400 level courses in  Planetary Image Analysis and Volcanology

Current research projects: A few smaller projects using new technologies (GigaPans, thermal imaging) to enhance in-class activities and bring the field to those who can’t get there, but right now the big one is our 4-year NASA funded study of Martian craters (“we” is the group on the proposal – CCSU, Univ. of Western Ontario, Northern Arizona University, and SwRI). The project is to develop detailed interpretations of how craters are formed and modified on Mars using analysis of both high-resolution visible images and thermal infrared data.  We projected that we’d be creating ArcGIS maps for something like 20-30 craters to interpret – lots of work to do there!

Favorite Book: I have too many to pick just one, or even just ten.  The last one I finished was A Dance with Dragons, but I wouldn’t call that a favorite.

Favorite Movie: I’m old school on this one – 2001 A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner, depending on the day.

Favorite Scientific Term:  (the wavelength dependent form of Planck’s blackbody equation, see image attached). I refuse to pick a non-math term. Nearly everything I’ve studied depends on this in some way.


Something my students don’t know about me:  I came one course shy of a music minor in college – took most of the classes they offered except the “intro” one needed for the minor, played with the band/orchestra/small groups . Haven’t picked up an instrument since then, though, except for an aborted attempt to learn bass guitar.

And I keep a pet Shoggoth in my office for company.


Meet the Rock Stars, Part 6: Ms. Carol Ivers

[Editor’s note: Carol is a proud alumna of the department, having received her BS here before earning an MS in Planetary Geology from the University of Massachusetts. Carol is also a high school teacher, an avid amateur astronomer, and is a past recipient of the Connecticut Earth Science Teacher of the Year award]


[Alpine climbing the ridge to Mt. Tupper near Rogers Pass in British Columbia. A drop off of ~2000 feet behind her and to her left kept her clinging tightly to that rock….]


Name: Carol B. Ivers

Title: Adjunct Professor

Year Started at CCSU: 1998

Courses Taught: The Cosmos, Earth Science, Physical Geology lab, Meteorology lab, Stellar and Galactic Astronomy lab, various others

Current research projects: Examining the geologic structure of Lac Manicouagan in Quebec

Favorite book: Where the Wild Things Are

Favorite film: The Fifth Element

Favorite scientific term: Stromatotoporoid

Something my students don’t know about me: I bicycled across the North American continent in the summer of 2015.

Meet the Rock Stars, Part 5: Dr. Jeff Thomas


Name: Jeff D. Thomas

Title: Associate Professor

Year Started at CCSU: 2008

Courses Taught: Severe and Hazardous Weather, Introduction to Meteorology, Elementary Earth and Physical Science, Teaching Science in Secondary School, History and Nature of Science; Research in Science Education; Projects in Science Education

Current research projects:  Presently, I am working on two major projects.

The first project I am working on is NESSLIENext Generation Earth and Space Science Literacy Instruction & Expertise. I am the Principal Investigator and Project Director of this federally-funded Teacher Quality Partnership grant which involves Central Connecticut State University, the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, and ten local school districts including Bristol, Cromwell, Colchester, East Hartford, Hartford, Meriden, New Britain, Portland, Southington, and Waterbury. The goal of this project is to improve teachers’ understanding of the new Earth and Space Science Next Generation Science Standards (e.g. climate change), the instructional shifts associated with these standards such as encouraging students to construct science models, and for teachers to embed reading and writing strategies as part of their instruction to improve students understanding of science

The second project I am working on is about better understanding secondary science teachers’ implementation of literacy practices with Dr. Sally Drew from the School of Education and Professional Studies. More specifically, this study examines the extent to which teachers are implementing the science literacy practices articulated in the (Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The significance of this project is to identify practices that teachers struggle with in order to provide suggestions for professional development opportunities.

Favorite book: How People Learn (educational) and Kate Remembered (for fun). Yes, these are both nonfiction

Favorite film: This is far too hard to select one movie as my favorite film, so here is my short list: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, X-Men, and The Birdcage.

Favorite scientific term: Fogbow—Google it!

Something my students don’t know about me: A bear at Sequoia National Park chased me—I escaped.

Meet the Rock Stars, Part 4: Mr. Troy Schinkel


Name: Troy Schinkel

Title: Adjunct faculty

Year Started at CCSU: 2011

Courses Taught: Dynamic Earth laboratory, Severe and Hazardous Weather, and Climate Change

Current research projects: Lately I’ve been working with Dr. Maureen Long from Yale University installing seismometers in northern Connecticut. The purpose of the 3 year long project is to understand the structure of the Earth’s crust and upper mantle beneath Connecticut.  The seismometers will be able to detect earthquakes from all over the world and how these waves change as they pass through the interior of the earth will help to better understand the geology below Connecticut.

Favorite book:  Tuesday’s With Morrie by Mitch Albom. It is important for me to read every once in awhile, especially when I’m working too much.  The book reminds me to slow down and focus on the important things in life.

Favorite film: Without a doubt – Goodfellas. A sharp contrast from my book selection. “…but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh…

Favorite scientific term: Cummingtonite. What, it’s a mineral!

Something my students don’t know about me: Not that long ago I was a student at CCSU. I finished my master’s degree in 2012.  For anyone wondering about a master’s degree in Geology at CCSU, sorry, I was the last one!

Meet the Rock Stars, part 3: Dr. Michael Wizevich


Name:   Dr. Michael Wizevich

Title: Associate Professor

Year Started at CCSU: 2006

Courses Taught: FYE 101 First Year Experience, GSCI 100 Search in Earth Science – Geology of National Parks, GSCI 100 Search in Science – Energy Principles and Problems, GSCI 121 Dynamic Earth, GSCI 121 Dynamic Earth Lab, GSCI 131 Environmental Geoscience, GSCI 141 Earth and Life History, GSCI 145 Earth and Life History Lab, GSCI 223 Stratigraphy and Sedimentology, GSCI 290 Field Methods in Geology, GSCI 424 Geomorphology, GSCI 425 Glacial and Quaternary Geology, GSCI 460 Senior Project, 490 Topics in Earth Science – Energy Science

Current research projects: Uranium-Lead Dating of Detrital Zircons of the Hartford Basin, Uranium-Lead Dating of Detrital Zircons of the Vieux Emosson Formation, southwest Switzerland, Depositional Environment of the of the Vieux Emosson Formation, southwest Switzerland, Internal Architecture of Exhumed Paleochannels in the Cedar Mountain Formation, central Utah (2016)

Favorite book: Very difficult to pick. I like to read. There are many favorites, but I’ll pick two that I read during my formative years (I wonder if they are still relevant to today’s college students). Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up To Me by Richard Fariña. Multiple reasons: Great title, spirited subversive protagonist, and a nearly believable out-of-the-ordinary storyline that was based partly on Fariña’s college experiences at my alma mater. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig was the perfect thought-provoking book to read while contemplating a new career path in geology

Favorite film: Star Wars . Having grown up in a generation of astronaut wannabes, I appreciate how it took (Star Trek (TV) and 2001: A Space Odyssey) space sci-fi to another level

Favorite scientific term: Pingo. Saying it makes you smile and it is a good name for a pet (….P-I-N-G-O And Pingo was his name-o).

Something my student’s don’t know about me: I once drove from Connecticut to the Grand Canyon by myself. I was quite impressed, so I’ve gone back there seven more times, but each time I’ve carpooled.

Meet the Rock Stars, Part 2: Dr. Alexa Tzanova


Name: Dr. Alexa Tzanova

Title: Adjunct faculty

Year Started at CCSU: 2015

Courses Taught: Dynamic Earth laboratory

Current research projects: I study past warm climates that can help us better understand and picture what our future world may look like. My current project focuses on reconstructing global sea surface temperatures around 8 Million years ago when many of our modern terrestrial ecosystems expanded or emerged for the first time. It is a multi-institution collaboration that also includes Dr. Tim Herbert and graduate student Chris Kelly at Brown University, RI, Dr. Kira Lawrence at Lafayette College, PA and Dr. Laura Peterson at Luther College, IA.

Favorite book:  Anything by Rex Stout.

Favorite film: Amélie – it reminds me to never place boundaries on imagination

Favorite scientific term:  coccolithophore – It may sound like a fancy chocolate dessert or a seasonal drink special, but it’s actually the term for miniature algae that live in the ocean. These tiny organisms help geologists reconstruct past marine environments and also date geological events.

Something my student’s don’t know about me: Some of my field work involves spending as much as 2 months at a time sailing on an oil-rig that’s been refitted as a science drilling ship (JOIDES Resolution); however, I happen to have no sea-legs whatsoever. I love sailing, but I get seasick every time.