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Student, Faculty & Alumni News

News from the 2023–2024 academic year

60th Aniversary Events

The Department of Geology and Environmental Science (formerly the Department of Geoscience) celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. To celebrate, we are holding several special events during SUNY Fredonia's Homecoming Weekend (Oct. 20th-21st). Stay up to date on the events and register for the reception on the webpage. This webpage also lists the brief schedule of the anniversary events. We welcome our alumni coming back to visit the department to celebrate with us!

60th Anniversary

News from the 2022–2023 academic year

All, welcome to the new academic year!Lanning 2022

We are excited to have Dr. Matt Lanning join us as a new faculty in the department.

Dr. Lanning grew up in Buffalo, NY. He obtained his Ph.D. from Indiana University and B.S. in Niagara University. He is fond of living organisms, especially plants and animals. His research area falls into the field of environmental science, with a focus on plant-water interface. He has done work on vegetation water use and water uptake, using approaches such as isotopic and elemental geochemistry. He is teaching ESCI 105 Global Environmental Issues, GIS 201 Geographic Information System I, and ESCI 490 Environmental Science Practicum. 


News from the 2021–2022 academic year

Welcome to the new semester, everyone! We are excited to start the semester with new blood in the department and newly renovated teaching and research space in Houghton Hall.

A new faculty Dr. Hung Ha joins the department this Fall as a Lecturer in Environmental Science. Dr. Ha graduated from Indiana State University with a Ph.D. degree in Spatial & Earth Sciences. His research interests are in the application of remote sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques to various environmental issues, problems, and hazards. Before joining Fredonia, Dr. Ha worked with the World Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency etc. in remote sensing applications for urban & climate change study and mineral mining industry. He is currently working on predicting harmful algal bloom in the temperate lakes in Madison, WI using RS time series analysis and object-based image analysis. Dr. Ha is scheduled to teach Global Environmental Issues, Methods in Environmental Analysis, and GIS I this semester. Welcome aboard!

Dr. Mateo Monferran is visiting the department for about half a year. Dr. Monferran is a paleontologist from Argentina. He will be working with Dr. Hegna on an exciting set of euthycarcinoid arthropod fossils from the Jurassic of Argentina and on the phylogeny of several crustacean groups. 

What’s also exciting is that we have 20 new students joining the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences (See below for an image of them standing in front of Houghton Hall). Eight of them are majoring in Environmental Sciences, while the rest in Earth Science, Earth Science Adolescence Education, and Geology. They hail from as far as India to as close as Brockton and Forestville. This is an exciting new group. Their meteor shower drawings and jokes had bombarded the first Freshman Seminar class. We hope to take them onto field trips such as Point Gratiot Park, Penn Dixie Fossil Park, and Chautauqua County Landfill Facilities and connect them with the area and their peers.

2021 students

With the renovation finishing up, our “new” home, Houghton Hall, is almost ready. Our teaching lab and sample collections have been moved to the new teaching spaces. The whole department is expected to move in during the winter break. New instruments are/will be available for various courses and research projects.

With the support of the college and our alumni and friends, we are very excited to open this new chapter of the department.


News from the 2019–2020 academic yearPaul Fein 50

During the homecoming week, several of our alumni visited the department. Pictured is Paul Fein (class of 1969) standing next to a display case that has many minerals donated by him from his father's collection. We thank our alumni for their continuing support of the department. 

We would like to keep in touch with our alumni. If you have changed your contact information, please let us know and we will update it. 


Welcome to our two new tenure-track Assistant Professors, Dr. Thomas Hegna and Dr. Matthew Purtill!

Tom HegnaDr. Thomas Hegna grew up in western Iowa and attended the University of Iowa where he fell in love with invertebrate paleontology. He graduated in the spring of 2004 with honors and high distinction in Geoscience (B.S.) with minors in English and Philosophy. Dr. Hegna stayed at the University of Iowa for his M.S., graduating in the fall of 2006 after completing a project on the systematics and phylogeny of a fauna of upper Cambrian trilobites. He then moved on to Yale University where he completed his thesis on branchiopod crustacean phylogeny and their fossil record in the spring of 2012. He taught at Western Illinois University from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2019. During the summer of 2019, he and his family made the move to Fredonia. He continues to study both the fossil record of trilobites and early crustaceans.


Dr. Matt Purtill is a geoarchaeologist with expertise inMatt Purtill archaeology, geomorphology and hydrogeology.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Kent State University, and master degree in Geography and Anthropology from University of Cincinnati. He then moved to West Virginia University for his Ph.D. degree in Geography. He taught at Ball State University in 2017, before joining the department as a lecture in 2018. He continues teaching geomorphology and hydrogeology along with GIS course in the department, as well as establishing a research group in the field.




News from the 2017–2018 academic year

Wentao CaoWe welcome Dr. Wentao Cao to the department this fall as a Lecturer in Mineralogy and Petrology. He hails from the University of Iowa, where he earned his Ph.D.

His research interests are in tectonics, metamorphic petrology, and structural geology. He has done fieldwork in the eastern Tibetan Plateau, South China, among other places.

Dr. Cao has done work in the partial melting of high-grade metabasites, the development of retrograde textures, metallogenesis, and is interested in the field-based study on regional geology.

This semester, he is teaching Mineralogy (GEO 411) and Minerals and Rocks (GEO 215).

He has already survived his first faculty meeting and is in the throes of organizing the Mineralogy field trip!

Jamila Smith Poster Figure 6.Sophomore Jamila Smith spent her summer conducting research with Dr. Colleen Dalton and Dr. Timothy Herbert of Brown University's Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences. Jamila was selected for the Summer Research - Early Identification Program through The Leadership Alliance.

She presented her work with Drs. Dalton and Herbert, "A Gassy Earth Makes for Carbon Rebirth: Investigating the Effects of Plate Tectonics on Climate Change by Measuring Seafloor Spreading Rates," at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium. Congratulations, Jamila!

News from the 2016 - 2017 Academic Year

Wow! We have 20 new students in the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences. Welcome aboard! Eleven have declared majors in Geology, Earth Science, and Earth Science Education. Nine have declared majors in Environmental Sciences. They are, not surprisingly, an interesting group.

They hail from as far away as Barbados to as close as Brocton and Forestville. Many are freshmen, but some are upperclassmen who have transferred to Fredonia. Some have traveled the world and some are Fredonia athletes. Others are musicians and avid hikers. Some value napping when they can, some are actually morning people and one makes an awesome Tiramisu. Photography, frisbee, biking, boarding, and sports, in general, keep them grounded during their down time. One is mistaken as the relative of a celebrity!

Freshman Seminar GEO | ESCIOur incoming students all have a common interest in enjoying the outdoors. We should be able to keep them busy with field trips to meet that interest - from the black shales at Point Gratiot to the vineyards of Portland to green architecture in Buffalo - we all agree... Earth Rocks!

During the 2015 - 2016 academic year, the Department was host to 3 Geophysics students from Brazil. They have now moved on to research positions, but we continue to stay in touch. From left to right: Everaldo Barros Xavier and Caique Pinheiro de Carvalho are digitizing well logs and processing seismic lines in the Applied Geophysics Lab in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Wright State University. Victor Salles is a research intern with Harvard University's Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. (Originally posted August 2016)

Please add a description of this image.Please add a description of this image.

GGL & Yiwen JuDr. Gary Lash hosted Dr. Yiwen Ju of the University of Chinese Academy of Science (UCAS) and his colleagues in May to collect samples from the black shale units in western New York for analysis in Beijing. Dr. Ju and his team are interested in similarities between the Middle and Upper Devonian black shale deposits of the Appalachian Basin and basin deposits in China. Dr. Lash has been invited to Beijing as a visiting professor at the UCAS. (Originally posted May 2016)

Sierra Kaufman & Brittany O'BrienSierra Kaufman (left) has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in Planetary Geology at Brown University. Brittany O'Brien (right) has received a GSA/ExxonMobil Field Camp Scholar Award and begins work on her graduate degree in Geographic Information Science at the University at Buffalo this Fall. (Originally posted May 2016)


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