The Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science at Miami University is a vibrant mixture of geologists with diverse specialties and world-class research projects. Along with a wide range of courses and a choice of majors, geology students can work with professors who maintain active research programs in geomicrobiology, geomorphology, hydrogeology, igneous petrology, isotope geochemistry, low-temperature geochemistry, geophysics, mineralogy and crystallography, mineral surface geochemistry, paleobiology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, structural geology, tectonics, and volcanology.
History, Resources, and Facilities
Even before the Department of Geology was created in 1920, faculty teaching geology at Miami obtained and used collections in their teaching efforts. Between 1920 and 1967, when the department occupied Brice Hall, a few display cases highlighting teaching and research collections were present, but central organization was lacking. These collections were essential to teaching classes in introductory geology, earth history, mineralogy, petrology, and paleontology.
During planning for a new building (Shideler Hall) in the early 1960s, faculty and administrators had the foresight to designate space for a museum to house, maintain, and properly display the department's various collections. This approach, rooted in the recognition that geology is a collections-based science, greatly facilitated undergraduate education in geology.
From this point forward, the department and the museum grew in mutually complementary ways because of the close relationships between the museum's displays and holdings and the department's courses in paleontology, earth history, mineralogy, sedimentology, and petrology. Importantly, this relationship continues in the present day in an even more diverse manner.
The goal of enhancing the undergraduate educational experience at Miami University has always been at the center of the museum's mission.
The museum entered a new era as a result of a total renovation of Shideler Hall in 2014-15, reopening in 2016 in a totally new space adjacent to the main entry and lobby of Shideler Hall. The fresh modern design, conceived with input from Miami students, includes a 48-inch diameter interactive digital OmniGlobe® and all new displays.
Departments, Centers, and Museums
The department's capstone course (GLG 411A -Field Geology is a 5-week field methods course. For two weeks of the course, participants travel to several spectacular locations in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The remainder of the course takes place at Timberline Ranch near Dubois, Wyoming, where Miami's geologists have been teaching field mapping since 1946. This course will provide you with an immersive experience that encourages you to integrate everything you have learned in previous geology courses, and it is almost universally considered to be the most challenging and memorable experience of undergraduate studies.
Th Department of Geography's faculty offers courses covering a wide range of geographic inquiry. In recent years, the number of our majors in Geography and Urban and Regional Planning has increased to well over 100, while the Master's Degree program has 9 students with full Graduate Assistantships. Geography faculty are leading scholars with national and international reputations. The department has excellent facilities and equipment to assist in the learning process.
The Institute for the Environment and Sustainability educates students as professionals and global citizens through interdisciplinary programs in environmental science and sustainability, and provides leadership in areas of research and outreach that address environmental problems and promote a more sustainable society. The IES administers 3 undergraduate co-majors, 1 minor, and 1 professional master's degree.
The Ecology Research Center (ERC) is the focal point for ecological field research at Miami University and provides a venue for educational opportunities for middle, high school, and university students. This 69-hectare field station contains a diversity of field sites and facilities that support both aquatic and terrestrial research.
The Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC) in Shideler Hall provides a wide range of software, high capacity microcomputers, digitizers, databases, and output devices dedicated to acquisition and analysis of spatial information (GIS, satellite remote sensing). The GIS Laboratory has a full-time director, and instruction is available at several levels.
The Center for Aquatic and Watershed Sciences (CAWS) was established to promote research and education on the linkages between watersheds and aquatic ecosystems. CAWS brings together faculty, students, and staff from several departments in a collaborative environment to address these and many other questions related to watersheds and aquatic ecosystems.
Willard Sherman Turrell Herbarium
The Willard Sherman Turrell Herbarium is Ohio's largest herbarium. The herbarium's holdings of approximately 620,000 specimens are global in both geographic and taxonomic coverage. The collection includes plant fossils, wood specimens, and anatomical and palynological microscope slides. There are several thousand type specimens contained in the collection, as well as many bound sets of cryptogamic exsiccatae.
The Robert A. Hefner Museum of Natural History emphasizes the biota of Southwest Ohio. It seeks to develop in its constituencies an understanding of, and appreciation for, biodiversity, conservation, and ecology through the systematic collection, care, and display of specimens for exhibition, research, and education.
Karl E. Limper
In over half a century of association with Miami University, Karl E. Limper held positions of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Geology. He was also Dean of the College of Arts and Science and, in 1964-1965, served as Acting Provost of the university.
Dr. Limper joined the faculty of the Geology Department in 1939, left to teach at Hamilton College in New York from 1941 to 1942, and returned to Miami in 1946, after serving from 1942 to 1946 as the officer in charge (Lieutenant Commander) of the ground school at the Naval Air Station in Norman, Oklahoma.
From 1958 until 1971, he held the various administrative positions named above; however, he returned to the Geology Department in 1971 and taught there until he retired in 1981. Besides teaching at Miami, Dr. Limper also taught in the Field Station in the Wind River Mountains, near Dubois, Wyoming, from 1947-1960, and later from 1971 to 1981 when he served as Field Station Director. Dr. Limper loved to teach, especially at the Field Station. He once informed a colleague that when 5 students could beat him up a particular mountain at the Field Station, he would retire. It was not until 1981 that 5 students—40 years his junior—could accomplish that feat.
Dr. Limper received numerous honors and fellowships during his career, and his research in Ordovician paleontology was recognized with the award of Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ohio Academy of Science. He was a member of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society of America, the American Geological Institute, and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.
He brought dedication and distinction to everything he did, and always tempered his interactions with genuine warmth and a keen sense of humor. Because of his personal and professional contributions, Dr. Limper had a profound impact on innumerable lives and generated a lasting legacy in the resulting love, affection, and admiration of his family, colleagues, and thousands of alumni.