Sara Pruss


Courses Recently Taught

GEO 231: Invertebrate Paleontology and the History of Life (Fall 2024) A study of the major evolutionary events in the history of life, with a special focus on marine invertebrates. Special topics include evolution, functional adaptations, paleoenvironments, the origin of life, mass extinction and origination, and how life has changed through time. At least one weekend field trip. Prerequisite: 101 and 102, or 108, or FYS 103, or 102 with any other GEO 100-level course. 102 can be taken concurrently; open to majors in the biological sciences. 

GEO 108: Oceanography (Spring 2025) An introduction to the global marine environment, with emphasis on the carbon cycle, seafloor dynamics, submarine topography and sediments, the nature and circulation of oceanic waters, ocean-atmosphere-climate interactions and global climate change, coastal processes, marine biologic productivity, and issues of ocean pollution and the sustainable utilization of marine resources by humans. At least one required field trip. 

GEO 302: Field Studies of the Desert Southwest (Spring soon) This field-oriented course examines the diverse stratigraphic record of mass extinction and Snowball Earth as well as structural complexities preserved in Death Valley and adjacent areas. A required week-long field trip takes place in January followed by a semester-long course in the spring semester. Field analyses include measuring stratigraphic sections and field mapping. Prerequisites: GEO 231 or GEO 232 or GEO 241 or permission of instructor.

FYS 109: Exobiology (soon) This course explores interdisciplinary approaches to the search for life in the Universe by using the Earth as a natural laboratory. We will address fundamental questions surrounding the formation of our solar system and the first appearance of life, the definition of life and how we can search for it elsewhere, and the biases we introduce by using Earth as a model system. The goal of this class is to present a multidisciplinary view of exobiology by integrating geology, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and physics.

GEO Special Studies and Senior Theses: Annually