Trinity University Geosciences Professor to Receive Teaching Award

Bookmark and Share

Susie P. Gonzalez
Oct. 18, 2012

Trinity University Geosciences Professor to Receive Teaching Award

Kathleen Surpless to be honored for involving undergraduate students in her field

SAN ANTONIO - Kathleen Surpless, associate professor of geosciences at Trinity University, will receive the Biggs Award for Excellence in Earth Science Teaching from the Geological Society of America during its annual convention in November.

Surpless, who researches sedimentary basins in the Cordilleran mountain belt of the western United States and Canada, previously has been awarded grants totaling more than $450,000 from the American Chemical Society's Petroleum Research Fund and from the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program to support her work.

The Biggs Award recognizes innovative and effective teaching of earth science among early career faculty and seeks to recognize earth science instructors and faculty from all academic institutions engaged in undergraduate education and who have been teaching full-time for 10 or fewer years.

Diane Smith, professor and chair of geosciences at Trinity, said the department's mission is to provide students with an education that includes theoretical, laboratory, field, and computational aspects of the field.  "Dr. Surpless' teaching accomplishments embody those goals in an exemplary way.  She has been very successful in providing students deep and meaningful educational experiences in courses ranging from introductory Common Curriculum classes to upper division electives for our majors, and by mentoring research students," Smith said. 

Much of Surpless' field work takes place in California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia, where she addresses the questions of (1) what can the information contained in sedimentary rocks and the basins in which these rocks formed tell us about what was happening on Earth, and (2) can we determine how ancient sedimentary basins formed and evolved?

Her goal is to teach students how to think critically and analytically about the world around them; in short, how to think as scientists.