Dr. Kevin Theissen to Receive 2017 Undergraduate Research Award for Faculty

Kevin Theissen

Dr. Kevin Theissen has received the University of St. Thomas 2017 Undergraduate Research Award for Faculty. This award is given annually to one faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to supporting undergraduate research and faculty-student collaboration.

Theissen, an associate professor in the Geology Department, has been a faculty member at St. Thomas since 2003. He served as chair of the department July 2012-January 2017.

"In all cases he has given [students] an amazing experience, a solid intellectual foundation, and opportunities for future careers and graduate programs," wrote Thomas Hickson, current chair of the Geology Department, in his nomination letter of Theissen. "I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Dr. Theissen."

Theissen's research focus is paleoecology, which involves reconstructing ecosystems and climates of the past using chemical and biological materials in sediments.

Theissen has pursued paleoecological and paleoclimatic research on lakes in Minnesota, southern Chile, southern Argentina, Montana and eastern Nevada, and has involved undergraduate student collaborators in all phases of the work. He has published five peer-reviewed articles from this work, two of them co-authored by St. Thomas students. He has presented more than 30 abstracts at national and regional conferences, half of which have St. Thomas student co-authors.

At the end of his first year at St. Thomas, he co-authored an abstract for an international meeting of the American Geophysical Union with seven St. Thomas students. This work focused on the Snowball Earth hypothesis, a time in Earth’s history when the entire planet was covered, or mostly covered, with ice all the way to the equator. He took a group of students to Death Valley for this research, which he wrote about in CAS Spotlight.

Theissen will receive his award at the Inquiry at UST poster session on Tuesday, May 9, from noon-1 p.m. in James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall.