Initial Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Faculty Profile: Tim Bralower


Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University

Tim Bralower's faculty webpage

This profile is part of a collection of profiles of faculty members in the geosciences. The collection focuses on faculty whose teaching and research connect to the future of science. This profile was created in April, 2007.

Jump Down To: Teaching | Research | Connections between teaching and research


What are your teaching responsibilities?

I teach Physical Geology once a year and a freshman seminar, Asteroids and Impacts: Cosmic Death and Destruction, every other year. In addition, I teach an upper level undergraduate course on Micropaleontology every other year and a graduate course on Paleoceanography every other year. I also teach a seminar to advanced graduate students, Preparing for an Academic Career, modeled on the Cutting Edge course.

How does your teaching relate to traditional geology?

The Physical Geology course is required of all geoscience, petroleum engineering and civil engineering majors at Penn Sate. The course is a broad overview of geology but I try to make it relevant to the science and engineering audience.

How does it take geoscience in new directions? How does it take your department in new directions?

My own teaching doesn't take geoscience in new directions, but I am very interested in designing curricula for future earth scientists. At Penn State, we have a new BS degree in Geobiology and are revising our Earth Science BS degree to tailor it to science educators.


What are your research interests and activities?

My interests are related to past warm climate intervals, specifically the origin of Cretaceous black shales and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum event (55 Ma). I am interested in how these events impact life, in particular, the base of the food chain. I also work on the Cretaceous/Tertiary Boundary mass extinction event and the recovery of marine food webs after this catastrophe.

How does your research relate to traditional geology?

As a biostratigrapher, my work has helped improve various elements of the Mesozoic and Paleogene time scales.

How does it take geoscience in new directions? How does it take your department in new directions?

My research concerns the impact of climate change on life history. I am one of many researchers investigating the deep time record to determine the potential of future environmental change to alter ecosystems on a global basis. Our work lies at the boundary between paleontology and ecology.

Connections Between Teaching & Research

I definitely use elements of my research in my teaching. Keeping my research relevant is critical and gives me plenty of fodder for my courses, both at the graduate and undergraduate level.