In conjunction with the Geoscience Department’s 50th anniversary at the Colleges, the HWS community gathered to celebrate the retirement of Professor of Geoscience D. Brooks McKinney, a distinguished member of the faculty since 1984. In his honor, the Colleges have established the Geoscience Field Study Fund, which will support scholarships for students conducting hands-on research in geoscience.
“We decided to develop a fund for GEO 299, because it allows students to look closely at rocks and we know that is Brooks’ favorite thing to do,” Professor of Environmental Studies John Halfman announced during the celebration. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for our students and for our department. You will be sorely missed.”
The Geoscience Field Study Fund has currently received $10,839 and will provide increased access for students pursuing enhanced opportunities through research and travel.
Beginning with the “Across the Great Divide” program of the 1990’s, a travelling geology and biology field course co-taught with Professor Jim Ryan of Biology, McKinney has sought to provide HWS students with field experiences beyond those available in Upstate New York. In 2000, he led the initial offering of the GEO 299 Geoscience Field Studies. Every year, students in GEO 299 travel to a new location to participate in two weeks of intensive study, including field work, on-site lessons and nightly readings. Through the course, students have the opportunity to apply concepts and techniques they have learned in the classroom. Topics are location dependent but typically include research opportunities in geology, hydrology, climatology and meteorology. Past locations include sites in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, the Midwest and the Bahamas. The latest offering of GEO 299 is currently exploring the volcanoes and coastal features of the Pacific Northwest with Associate Professor of Geoscience Tara Curtin and Assistant Professor of Geoscience David Finkelstein.
At the celebration, McKinney was also presented with a memory book from students, faculty and staff.
McKinney received his bachelor of science from Beloit College and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. At HWS, he has taught courses in structural geology, petrology, mineralogy and physical geology among other topics.
Students who have graduated from the Geoscience program at HWS have enrolled in top-tier graduate programs and launched careers at elite research institutions and companies, where they pursue new scientific questions, monitor environmental changes, manage natural resources and inform policy-makers and the public about natural phenomenon. Notable alums include the 2018 Commencement speaker John Grotzinger ’79, Sc.D. ’13, the mission leader and project scientist for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory.