Geology of the National Parks

Meet the Instructor


Meet the Instructor

Thomas Givens
Thomas Givens

Hello everybody! My name is Thomas Givens, and I am about to begin my 5th year in the Geosciences Ph.D. program at Penn State. My advisor is Dr. Richard Alley (who you’ll learn about shortly), and my research interests include the dynamics of planetary bodies and how the Earth responds to the loss of glacial mass from modern climate change. I study how the Earth deforms under glacial loads using large numerical simulations that I run on ROAR, Penn State’s research supercomputer. I am currently building models to simulate Iceland and quantify the magnitude of decompression and resulting magma generation in the mantle due to modern glacial loss on the island. I will be traveling there this summer to perform fieldwork, gathering the GPS data that informs my models, and I am very excited and fortunate to work in such a naturally stunning place! Please get in touch with me if you’d like to chat about my work/research in general. 

I enjoy hiking, cooking, and riding/working on my motorcycle. I have a spouse who’s a Ph.D. candidate in the Biobehavioral Health program and an exceptionally soft King Charles Spaniel named Oswald. 

Let’s have a great summer session!

This course was prepared by Dr. Richard Alley and Dr. Sridhar Anandakrishnan, both professors in the Department of Geosciences at Penn State. You will literally see and hear both of them throughout the course via audio and video clips.

Course Authors

Sridhar Anandakrishnan

Sridhar Anandakrishnan is a geophysicist and a Columbia University and Wisconsin (Go Bucky!) graduate, who has been at Penn State off and on since 1992. Dr. "A" splits his time between teaching (this intro class, geophysics classes, and some math and computer-related classes for geoscientists), service (committees, panels, talks to the public), and research (what's under the glaciers and will they melt?). He has spent a good chunk of his time in Antarctica doing research on and about the glaciers there. Go to the US Antarctic Program's newsletter for a flavor of life and work in Antarctica. When not in work mode, Dr. A's attention goes to the family, cats, bicycles, and gardening. Here is a brief video biography, "Interview with the Iceman".

Richard Alley
Richard Alley

Richard Alley is a geologist, and an Ohio State and Wisconsin graduate, who has been at Penn State long enough that the fruit trees he planted in his sideyard are getting big. He splits his time between teaching (introductory classes, the study of past climates for undergraduate majors, and mathematical modeling of the earth for graduate students), service (he's had breakfast with a U.S. Vice President, testified to various Congressional committees, was the color commentator for an educational trip to Greenland by 10% of the US Senate, and contributed to the Nobel Peace Prize work of the United Nations IPCC, as well as chatting with lots of elementary-school classes and scout troops), and research (will the ice sheets fall into the ocean and flood the coasts?). When not in work mode, his attention goes to his wife Cindy (who is the Geovisionary of the Rock Videos you'll see soon), their two daughters (Janet, who graduated from Penn State in elementary education, and Karen at Colgate, also featured on the Rock Videos), the fruit trees, a bicycle, and some soccer cleats.

An instructional design team supported the development work for GEOSC 10 as well, including Cindy Alley, Eric Spielvogel, Jennifer Babb, and Ann Taylor.

Cindy Alley met Richard when they were both geology majors at Ohio State. Since she enjoys computer graphics and design layout, and she can speak "geology," she has helped with course design, editing photos (many of the parks photos in this class come from their honeymoon, over 20 years ago!), and designing figures. In GEOSC 10, she steps in to help wherever the others need a hand – photo editing, testing, making suggestions, whatever. When not playing with GEOSC 10, Cindy is a quilter, crafter, and chauffeur for their two children.

Kim Crossman, Ann Taylor, and Eric Spielvogel work for the Dutton e-Education Institute in the College of Earth and Minerals Sciences, supporting the development of courses like GEOSC 10! You may see them "pop in" from time to time, as they continue to assist with the course as we work out the bugs over time.

Many other people worked hard to make your "visit" to the national parks a memorable one. Click here to meet some of them.