University News

'Rockin' Opportunity for SUU's Students

Published: March 29, 2014 | Category: Academics

The geology program will be hosting the third annual SUU Geology Symposium on April 4–5. Capitalizing on its ideal location, with accessibility and educational partnerships no other university in the nation can tout, SUU brings students and the field's leading scientists together in research and discussion of the southwestern U.S.

“I couldn’t be happier to be so close to field areas that other universities can only read about,” said Johnny MacLean, assistant professor of geosciences at SUU who came to the University with great interest in its distinct location.

This year's symposium will include well-respected geologists whose expertise ranges from work for national parks to top universities as the field's leading professors. These professional presentations will run throughout the day on Friday, in the Great Basin Room from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

No less informative and, perhaps, more exciting for anyone whose profession is rooted in the earth, following Friday's lectures the symposium will take participants on a field study to Zion National Park on Saturday.

Johnny MacLean, assistant professor of geosciences at SUU, said the combination of the varied presentations and the hands-on, in-field application makes this year's symposium a great opportunity for all SUU's geology majors as well as any other students who are interested in the region's geological landscape.

“The framework for this symposium allows a wonderful balance between classroom learning and field experience, which is exactly the model the SUU Geology Program strives to follow,” he said.

SUU, and southern Utah in general, have a unique landscape for geology, especially considering the proximity to several of the nation's most popular national parks. MacLean said southern Utah draws geologists from all over the world.

“SUU’s location is second to none when it comes to studying geology in the field,” MacLean said. “Not only are we close to absolutely stunning scenery, we’re also on the transition zone between two very important geologic provinces.”

“To the east is the Colorado Plateau with spectacular examples of sedimentology, paleontology and structural geology,” he said. “To the west is the Basin and Range Province, which exposes a much different style of geology.”

“Our field experiences define the geology program and they perfectly embody the experiential mission of SUU.”

The Geology Symposium at SUU aims to bring classroom and field together in relevant discussion and exploration.

The first speaker on this year's docket, Adrienne Fitzgerald, is an interpretive ranger at Zion National Park. She will discuss the park's geology and current issues the National Park Service is addressing.

Other symposium presenters will include Gerry Bryant, Bob Biek, Bill Lund, Tyler Knudsen and Dave Sharrow.
Dr. Gerry Bryan is a professor at Dixie State University who specializes in ancient, petrified sand dunes such as those preserved in the Navajo Sandstone in Zion National Park. Bob Biek is one of the lead geologic mappers for the Utah Geological Survey in Salt Lake.

Bill Lund and Tyler Knudsen also work for the Utah Geological Survey, but they are based in Cedar City. They specialize in natural hazards.

Dave Sharrow is a hydrologist for the National Park Service. He is based in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in understanding the hydrogeology of Zion National Park.

Friday's presentations, beginning at 10 a.m., are open to all. There is a small fee of $25 for the Saturday field excursion in Zion; participants may sign up online or contact Johnny MacLean at to register in advance.

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