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Rebecca McKean

Associate 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 upper-level classes in both of those areas as well as a variety of Core Curriculum classes, such as Geology and General Oceanography. I love teaching introductory classes because it gives me a chance to show students the relevancy of geology to their everyday lives. I also really enjoy field trips with students and have led trips to places like Arizona, South Dakota and Nicaragua.

Plesiosaurs are marine reptiles that swam around in the oceans at the same time that the dinosaurs were walking around on land. The majority of my research centers around these fascinating creatures. My field area is located in southern Utah, where I prospect for new vertebrate fossils, including plesiosaurs, in a group of rocks called the Tropic Shale. These rocks were deposited as deep marine sediments at the bottom of a massive interior seaway called the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway. Fossil specimens are brought back to the fossil prep lab in the Gehl-Mulva Science Center, where my students and I begin the preparation process. I am most interested in studies related to biodiversity and taphonomy (burial history).

One of my other main interests is undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research, because it was incredibly beneficial to me early in my career. Some students have traveled with me to southern Utah to search for and excavate vertebrate fossil sites and collect data for their research projects. Other students have completed work in the fossil prep lab on campus, have traveled to Kansas to conduct museum work, and have cored into ancient sand dunes in upper Wisconsin. I am delighted when my students bring their work to completion and present at venues such as the annual Geological Society of America conference.

Courses
GEOL 105 Geology
GEOL 107 Environmental Geology
GEOL 115 General Oceanography
GEOL 275 Historical Geology
GEOL 280 Introduction to Paleontology
GEOL 322 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

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