Initial Publication Date: June 10, 2019

Team Members

Sean Tvelia

Sean is an Associate Professor of Geology. His primary teaching responsibility includes both introductory and upper level geology courses including a research-oriented field studies course and Planetary Geology. Aside from his primary responsibility in geology, Sean is actively involved in the Astronomy Department and is a founding board member of Montauk Observatory, a not-for-profit organization that provides free public science lectures on the east end of Long Island.


Sean teaches Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Geologic Field Studies, and Planetary Geology.

Previous Team Members

Tracy Imperato

Tracy is an Assistant Professor of Geology at Nassau Community College. Tracy's educational interests include anything related to the history of New York City, from the rocks to the infrastructure. She is also interested in storm action on coastlines and how coasts evolve through time particularly with human interference. Tracy is the Geology/Astronomy Outcomes Assessment Coordinator for the Department of Physical Sciences, and Program Coordinator for the Women's Faculty Association at NCC. She has also recently served as Nassau Community College's Academic Senate Grants Committee Chairperson.


Tracy teaches Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Field Laboratory Geology, and Beaches and Coasts.

JoAnn Thissen

JoAnn is an Honors Faculty and winner of the NY State Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In both her face-to-face and online courses she uses active and inquiry based learning, involving students in hands-on activities, research projects, and field work.


While she was at Nassau Community College, JoAnn taught Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Ocean Science, Field Geology, and Beaches and Coasts, a non-lab coastal processes/coastal geomorphology course.

Administrative Involvement

  • Dr. Paul Beaudin, Vice President of Academic Affairs (2018-2019)
  • Christopher Gherardi, College Associate Dean of Faculty & Professional Advancement (2016-2018)

Institutional Context

Suffolk County Community College

Institution: Suffolk County Community College (also known as SUNY Suffolk) is the largest community college in the State of New York, serving about 26,000 students from 3 campuses on Long Island. Eighteen percent of its students are Hispanic or Latino.

Geoscience program: Geosciences at Suffolk County Community College are mostly part of the Earth & Space Science program which is run through the Department of Physical Sciences. The program offers courses in Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Meteorology, Environmental Science, Global Climate Change, Planetary Geology; the Biology Department offers Oceanography. The geoscience program has three full-time faculty and four adjunct faculty.

A majority of SCCC students served by geoscience courses are liberal arts students satisfying a lab-science elective. Across three campuses, the program serves approximately 250 students a semester and has 15-20 majors each year. Majors and potential majors in Sean's classes are also given many opportunities to participate in field activities with local university and other geoscience agencies.

Institutional demographic data is from IPEDS, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, U.S. Department of Education, typically for the 2014-15 year as available.