Students and professors at Colgate carry out geologic research exploring a wide range of topics at locations around the world.


In addition to research studies run by Colgate professors, the department is also a member of the Keck Geology Consortium, a multi-college collaboration that opens up a broad range of research opportunities for both undergraduates and faculty members. Students involved in Colgate or Keck-related research often travel with their research adviser to their study locations in order to gain firsthand field experience.


  • Amy Leventer does extensive climate change research on the East Antarctic Margin.
  • Joe Levy studies the sediment, water, and ice in Antarctica’s Dry Valleys to understand the connections between climate change, hydrology, and life in extreme environments.

Western North America

  • Connie Soja researches ancient reefs and suspect terranes in Southeastern Alaska and the Pleistocene Fossil Lake site in Oregon.
  • Joe Levy is measuring the flow rate and internal structure of debris-covered glaciers in Alaska and the mountain West to determine how changing temperature and precipitation is encoded in glacial landscapes.
  • Martin Wong's work in the southwestern United States aims at gaining an understanding of the mechanics of metamorphic core complexes.
  • Aubreya Adams uses seismic data recorded along the southern Alaskan margin to determine how upper mantle structures and dynamics relate to spatial variability of earthquake and volcanic behaviors.

Eastern North America

  • Aubreya Adams investigates the seismicity and crustal structure of the Adirondack Mountains.
  • William Peck studies metamorphic and igneous rocks in Quebec, New York, and New Jersey to determine the tectonic history of Eastern North America 


  • Joe Levy is prospecting for glacier and permafrost ice deposits on Mars that might contain traces of past habitable environments or that could be used by future explorers using satellite and rover data.


  • Connie Soja researches suspect terranes and ancient reefs in Russia and Mongolia. Connie also has researched the origins of Colgate's dinosaur egg in Mongolia. 


  • Aubreya Adams studies the origin and evolution of the East African Rift System, and its relationship to the African Superplume and researches the origin of the enigmatic Cameroon Volcanic Line.

Galápagos Islands

  • Karen Harpp researches the volcanic processes and history of the Galápagos.

Student Theses

Student research is a significant feature of our undergraduate curriculum that often leads to presentations at professional meetings and publications in scientific journals. To qualify for honors in geology, students must complete a year-long senior thesis, the culmination of a research project usually started the summer before the senior year. Following is a list of theses completed by geology students in recent years.

  • Jake Mahr
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Rejuvenescent Volcanism on San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos: A Late "Plumer"
  • Hannah Bercovici
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Isla Rabida, Galapagos: A little island with a big secret
  • Taylor Dawson 
    Adviser: Martin Wong
    EBSD and Ti-in-quartz analysis of mylonites from the Harcuvar core complex region
  • Glenna Thomas
    Adviser: Amy Leventer
    Antarctic Radiolaria
  • Grace Howard
    Adviser: William Peck
    Thermometry and geochronology of Adirondack anorthosite
  • Oleg Kozel
    Adviser: William Peck
    Pseudosection analysis and geochronology of Adirondack anorthosite
  • Taylor Mooney
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    A Diatom-Based, Paleolimnological Study of Shadow Lake, Waupaca County, Wisconsin
  • Alex Campbell
    Adviser: Bruce Selleck
    The Trace Element Geochemistry of the Trenton-Utica Boundary in Herkimer County, New York
  • Natalie Smith
    Adviser: Bruce Selleck
    Flat Creek, Jackson, Wyoming: Assessing Impacts of Development on Water Quality
  • Jonathan (Jonny) Miller
    Adviser: Aubreya Adams
    Sources of Rifting in the East African Rift System: A Rayleigh Wave Tomography Study
  • Veronica Vriesman
    Adviser: Martin Wong
    Cold Relamination in California: A Petrological Study of Salina de Sierras' Schist Emplacement
  • Matthew (Matt) Quinan
    Adviser: William Peck
    Provenance of detrital zircons in the Paleoproterozoic Morin terrane, Quebec
  • Brett Field
    Adviser: Constance Soja
    An interactive educational exercise on local Devonian trilobites for teachers and students in Hamilton, N.Y.
  • Aurelia Casarrubias
    Adviser: Amy Leventer
    A Holocene climate record based on diatoms from the Sabrina Coast, Antarctica
  • Ciara Pettinos
    Adviser: Bruce Selleck
    Nitrogen and Carbon Isotopes in Bivalve Tissue and Shell Organic Matrix: Differentiating Impacted vs. Non-impacted Watersheds, Central and Northern New York
  • Jackson Lucas
    Adviser: Amy Leventer
    Ice Retreat in the Eastern Antarctic Peninsula: The Application of Diatoms for Understanding Climate Change
  • Tiong Hua (Andy) Sia
    Adviser: Richard April
    Effects of Liming on the Soil Geochemistry of the Adirondack Mountains
  • Ellis Van Slyke
    Adviser: William Peck
    Carbon isotopes and sugars in birch, black walnut, butternut, and maple syrup
  • Nathan (Nate) Taylor
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Magnetite T.I.: The Case of the Blue Lava or Origin of Surficial Color in the Blue Dragon Lava Flow, Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • Kevin Varga
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Understanding magmatic plumbing system dynamics at Fernandina Island, Galapagos
  • Julia Home
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Volcanological Perspectives on Paulin and East Lakes, Newberry Crater, Oregon
  • Ariel Hampton
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Interaction of Basaltic Lava Flows with Patterned Ground: Field and Analog Studies
  • Katherine (Kate) Hardock
    Adviser: Martin Wong
    40Ar/39AR thermochronology of Harcuvar metamorphic core complex, Arizona
  • Sarah Katz
    Adviser: William Peck
    Mineralogy and Stable Isotopes of Taconic Metasedimentary Rocks in Dutchess and Litchfield Counties
  • Teymoor Tahbaz
    Adviser: Bruce Selleck
    Regional correlation and geochronology of a Late Ordovician K-bentonite from the Wells Outlier, New York
  • Ann (Annie) Preston
    Adviser: Bruce Selleck
    Sequence Stratigraphy Correlations and Depositional Environments of the Late Ordovician Sequence in the Wells Outlier (Wells, New York)
  • Rebecca (Becca) Silardi
    Adviser: Bruce Selleck
    Syndepositional and Post Deposition Tectonism in the Late Ordovician from the Wells Outlier in Wells, New York
  • Maggie McGuire
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Geochemical Evolution of Espanola Island, Galapagos Archipelago
  • Ashlynne Rando
    Adviser: Richard April
    Geochemistry of the Adirondacks: A Liming Study
  • Ryan Clements
    Adviser: Martin Wong
    Kinematics and temperature conditions of mylonitization in the Harcuvar metamorphic core complex, Az.
  • Michael (Mike) DuBois
    Adviser: William Peck
    Geochemical analysis of pyroxene megacrysts from massif anorthosite in the Adirondacks region
  • Zachary (Zac) Sawin
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Effect of Barrier Design on Hazard Mitigation of Lava Flows
  • Erin Cummings
    Adviser: William Peck
    Causes of Variability in Carbon Isotope Ratios in Maple and Birch Syrups
  • Megan (Meg) Ryan
    Adviser: Constance Soja
    Analysis of Trilobite Taphofacies at Geer Road Quarry, New York
  • Kegan Thompson
    Adviser: Constance Soja
    Paleoecology of Devonian trilobites at Geer Road, Lebanon, New York
  • Michael (Mike) Yavorek
    Adviser: Richard April
    Mineralogy of the Karheen Formation in SE Alaska
  • Kevin Lough
    Adviser: William Peck
    Constraining Metamorphic Conditions of the Morin Shear Zone, QC, Using Thermobarometry
  • John Quazza
    Adviser: Karen Harpp
    Investigation into the Insulating Properties of Scoria on Basaltic Lava