Welcome! Our names are Timothy Bralower and David Bice; we are the authors of this course. Dr. Bralower (please call me Tim) is teaching the class this semester. It is a pleasure to have you in the class and we look forward to a fun and important learning experience about Earth's climate system — how it is changing and what these changes mean for our future on Earth. Last semester we taught the course both face-to-face and on line, so it will be interesting this semester to teach it in hybrid format. The weekly lab sessions should save you a lot of consternation over these exercises and also provide a forum for us to talk about the on-line materials.
Tim Bralower was born in Armonk NY but moved to London at the age of four. London in the 1960s often had thick smog due to the use of coal for heating, and Tim remembers his father walking along the side of the car on a foggy night to help his mother steer it through the streets. Tim attended Oxford University and received a BA in Earth Science. Weather was a big factor in his choice of graduate school, so Tim followed his undergraduate degree with a PhD in Earth Science at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. Although a classically trained marine geologist, Tim’s specialty is calcareous nannoplankton, a group of marine plankton that leave an exquisite fossil record. The nannoplankton allow us to tell time or date ancient sediments back to 225 million years ago, and, in addition, inform us about environments in the past. Recently, Tim has focused his research on ancient time periods when climate warmed rapidly. In particular, he is interested in what happens to life during these episodes. The motivation for this research is to predict what will happen in the future as the ocean continues to heat up. He is also interested in mass extinction, in particular the same event 65 million years ago that led to the demise of the dinosaurs, which almost eradicated the nannoplankton. The extinction and subsequent recovery of life in the ocean gives us a worst-case scenario for how modern plankton may respond to drastic environmental change.
Tim started his academic career as an Assistant Professor at Florida International University in Miami before moving to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he rose through the academic ranks to become Chair of the Department of Geological Sciences. Tim moved to Penn State in 2003 and, until recently, was Head of the Department of Geosciences. Tim’s research has taken him for fieldwork in Italy, much of the Western US, the Andes and four two-month ocean drilling expeditions.
Tim is married with two kids and spends much of his free time as a chauffeur.
Dave Bice grew up in Minnesota back when there were real winters. He received a BA in Geology at Carleton College, also in Minnesota, but then moved out west to work for the US Geological Survey, studying Mt. St. Helens, where he learned what geothermal heat is all about. He then moved down the coast to Berkeley, California for his Ph.D., which involved extensive field work on the stratigraphy, structure, and tectonics of the Northern Apennines mountains in Italy. After completing his Ph.D., he took a faculty position at Carleton College, where he spent the next 15 years teaching and doing research that drifted from paleomagnetism and stratigraphy to asteroid impacts and eventually to paleoclimate. During this time, he co-founded a geological observatory in a tiny village in the Apennines of Italy; this observatory has grown into a center for teaching and research drawing geoscientists from around the globe. In 2004, Bice moved to Penn State, drawn by the excitement created by so many bright colleagues. He continues to teach field geology courses in Italy and the US along with classes in geodynamics and earth systems modeling.
Bice is married to another professor; they have two kids, both of whom are budding geoscientists. Dave's pastimes include cooking, foraging for wild foods, hiking, biking, and skiing.