Issues in Geosciences, Geosc 500 Fall Term, 2019

Meetings:             T: 4 5 pm (Colloquium)                                                                 22 Deike

                              W 8:00 - 9:50 (Class meeting)                                                       341 Deike

Goals: This course is designed to provide graduate students with the skills and breadth of perspective needed for a successful career in the field of Geosciences. 

Book: The Art of Being a Scientist. This book has many practical skills for working with mentors and developing effective research habits. You can get a used copy for ~ $20. 

Lunch with colloquium speakers: The course is integrated with the weekly Dept. seminar series. A group of you will join the speaker for lunch each week.  You are required to schedule lunch with at least two speakers during the fall semester.

Weekly classroom meetings will start with a discussion of the previous colloquium talk and then proceed to the topic listed below.

Care and maintenance of your advisors! Several of our activities throughout the semester will focus on developing a healthy, scientifically meaningful relationship with your advisor and thesis committee. This will include interviews, activities in research topic selection, and your research proposal.

Required Reading: 1) The Art of Being a Scientist, 2) each of the papers suggested by the colloquium speakers. Read the paper in preparation for the colloquium and come to our weekly classroom meeting prepared to lead a discussion of the paper for the previous colloquium. 3) additional reading for each meeting is noted in the table below.


Tentative Syllabus.  Details here:


Lectures and weekly Reading






In addition to the reading listed on the Lectures link

Aug 28

Course Introduction  



Sep. 4

Colloquium Discussion

The Literature: critical reading, writing and discussion. Plagiarism and the Pressure to Publish.

Fisher: Proposal Writing

PS 1 due


Choosing a research topic and advisor

Fisher: Proposal Writing

PS 2 due

Begin PS 3


Colloquium Discussion

Prof. Brad Foley:



Data wrangling and file manipulation. The value of scripts in scientific computing.

Prof. Tanya Furman: Teaching and other forms of scientific communication


Oct. 2

Colloquium Discussion

Fisher: Primer on Appalachian Geology

PS 4 due


Field trip  Leave at 10AM-Sharp! Deike parking lot. Return by ~ 6:30pm Sunday

Work on Fac. Interviews & Proposal


Prof. Jesse: An introduction to short-lived isotope geochemistry and why they are worth the effort Reimink

Work on Proposal


Prof. Julie Cosmidis: Microbial biomineralization: mechanisms, signatures and environmental roles

Chris Marone The Mechanics of Slow Earthquakes and The Spectrum of Fault Slip Behaviors



Colloquium Discussion


Proposal summary due


Colloquium Discussion

Prof. Sarah Ivory: Past and future landscapes inferred from ancient archives

PS 3 due

Nov. 6

Proposal Presentations (5)



Special Meeting: 6:00 to 8:30pm;

Pizza and Proposal Presentations



Proposal Presentations (5)



Proposal Presentations (5)

Proposals due


 Thanksgiving holiday- No Class


Dec. 4

Summaries from Proposal Evaluation Panels



AGU meeting, no Colloquium, no class meeting



Research proposal: In-depth summary of a current issue in Geosciences.


Chris Marone, 536 Deike, 865-7964;

Don Fisher, 334 Deike, 865-3206;


In class participation including all discussions. We will spend the first 30-45 mins of each class discussing the Tuesday talk. You should raise questions during this discussion at least a few times during the semester.  20%

Exercises and Field trip participation (including Faculty Interviews and other exercises, as listed on the course web page): 20%

Writing assignments: 20%

Proposals 20%

Colloquium participation, participation in lunch discussions: 20%


ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the EMS community and compromise the worth of work completed by others. Please understand that we expect you to be fair to yourself and your classmates. Please refer to University policy for further details: .


NOTE TO STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services, ODS located in room 116 Boucke Building at 814-863-1807(V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit their web site at Instructors should be notified as early in the semester as possible regarding the need for reasonable academic adjustments.

To receive consideration for course accommodations, please contact the Office for Disability Services or see information at