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Earth, Life, and Time - Faculty and Staff

The College Park Scholars Earth, Life & Time Program is supported by the Department of Geology in the College of Computer, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences.

The ELT Faculty:

image Faculty Director: Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. is a dinosaur paleontologist and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geology. His primary research subject is the evolution and adaptations of the carnivorous dinosaurs, most especially the tyrant dinosaurs. He has also published on the effects of plate tectonics on the evolution of dinosaurs and their contemporaries, and on reconstructing the locomotion and predatory techniques of various fossil animals. For a more general audience, Dr. Holtz has written children's books on dinosaurs and was one of the primary consultants on the BBC/Discovery Channel TV series Walking with Dinosaurs. He was a consultant with and appears in the new History Channel series Jurassic Fight Club. He is the current President (2006-2009) of the Paleontological Society of Washington.

Dr. Holtz has been with the Department of Geology since 1994, teaching classes on dinosaurs, invertebrate paleontology, and historical and environmental geology. He has received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the University Honors Program (in 1997), the Celebrating Teachers Award from the Center for Teaching Excellence (in 2003), and the College of Computer, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences Outstanding Instructor Award (in 2005). In the Fall of 1999 he and Associate Director Merck began the College Park Scholars Earth, Life and Time Program to promote the scientific understanding of the natural historical sciences among some of UMCP's most talented students. In addition to his background in the natural historical sciences, Dr. Holtz brings to ELT his love of the best in science fiction and his knowledge of the worst in the pseudosciences.

Email: tholtz@umd.edu

image Associate Director: Dr. John W. Merck, Jr., also a vertebrate paleontologist and a Senior Lecturer and Undergraduate Director for the Geology Department. He has worked for the Department since 1999. Merck works a little farther back in time and farther down the tree of evolution than Holtz, studying the evolutionary relationships among the marine reptiles of the early Mesozoic, including ichthyosaurs, nothosaurs, placodonts and plesiosaurs.

He is a committed undergraduate educator, whose philosophy is that curriculum should be structured so that students receive the maximum educational benefit for their effort. Merck's teaching experience spans geological and biological subjects including physical Geology, vertebrate evolution, and comparative anatomy. He has a special affection for the ELT curriculum, the one venue in which he truly is free to emphasize the meaningful connections between concepts of natural history that are usually obscured by the artificial divisions of academic bureaucracy. In 2004 he recieved the College of Computer, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences Oustanding Instructor Award.

Merck's teaching is also informed by his academic and professional experience with digital information technologies, enabling him to instruct ELT students in appropriate methods of presentation, including web sites and professional quality digital graphics. He prefers cats to dogs.

Email: jmerck@umd.edu

ELT Undergraduate TA for Spring 2008:

imageimage TA for CPSP 118G:
Susan Drymala
Email: sdrymala@umd.edu
IM Name: paleosuz
Office Hours: Centreville 1217, Th: 3-4


ELT Residential Assistants for 2008-2009:


Last modified: 5 May 2009