Rebecca McKean

Assistant Professor of Geology

B.S., St. Norbert College
M.S., Northern Arizona University
Ph.D., University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Programs: Geology

My specialization is in two main areas: vertebrate paleontology and sedimentology. The courses I teach at St. Norbert include classes in both of those areas as well as a variety of introductory-level courses, such as Geology and General Oceanography. I love teaching introductory classes because it gives me a chance to share my excitement for geology and get students interested in the Earth! I also enjoy field-based courses and field trips with students and have led trips to northern Arizona and the Driftless Area of Wisconsin.

Much of my research centers around plesiosaurs, swimming reptiles that look something like the fictional Loch Ness monster. I am currently studying the taphonomy (burial history) of plesiosaurs and other marine reptiles, such as mosasaurs and sharks, to determine if there are certain environments where these animals are more likely to be preserved in the fossil record. This research is focused in the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway, an interior seaway that flooded the central part of North America during the time the dinosaurs were around.

Another part of my research involves a relatively new dating method called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). I have used this technique to date sand dunes in Nebraska to determine their climatic history and have also applied this dating technique to dunes in northern Wisconsin.

One of my other passions is undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research, because it was incredibly beneficial to me early on in my career. Student research projects I have advised cover a wide variety of topics including northern Wisconsin dunes, large fossil oyster beds in southern Utah, and pterosaur taphonomy.

Courses
GEOL 105 Geology
GEOL 107 Environmental Geology
GEOL 115 General Oceanography
GEOL 275 Historical Geology
GEOL 322 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy