Scott Paterson is a professor of Earth Sciences.
What kind of research
do you conduct?
Geologic mapping and lab work aimed at understanding the magmaticand tectonic evolution of continentalmargins. I presently have projects inthe Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, in the Cascades Mountains, Washington, in Joshua Tree National Park, California, and in China and Mongolia.
a typical semester, how many undergraduates do you work
with? What kind of research activities do the undergraduate
I run a year long undergraduate Team Research program open to all USC undergraduates. I also organize undergraduate research projects for Earth Science majors, and I teach GEOL 385, a course about research methods and the history of the physical sciences.
Last year our "Team Research" group went to Yosemite National Park, mapped a region, collected rocks, and then spent this last year doing a variety of lab analyses. They are now publishing their results (see http://geology.usc.edu/esurp).
I have also had undergraduates work in a number of other areas such as Baja California and am presently looking for more to work in China, Mongolia and the Sierra Nevada.
What are some
of your recent undergraduate projects
1. Making geologic maps while using GPS and GIS systems.
2. Measuring and learning to interpret the meaning of various structures preserved in rocks.
3. Learning to date minerals in rocks and/or determine their composition using geochemical techniques.
4. Making and looking at thin sections of rocks using a microscope to look at their minerals and microstructures.
5. Use geologic data as input values into computer models to understand geologic processes.
6. Combine all of the above to determine how rocks form and evolve through time.
out more about Dr. Paterson and his research, please visit