Laura Guertin has been selected to receive the title of distinguished professor of Earth sciences in recognition of her exceptional record of teaching, research and service to the University community.
The title of distinguished professor recognizes the academic contributions of full-time faculty members who hold the rank of professor. Distinguished professors are acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity; demonstrate significant leadership in raising the University’s standards in teaching, research, or creativity activity and service; and exhibit excellent teaching skills.
“I am incredibly appreciative of the support I have received throughout my career from across Penn State and the greater geoscience community,” Guertin said. “I am honored to be recognized for my innovative classroom approaches, research contributions in both science and pedagogy, and my leadership roles in local-to-international organizations.”
Guertin joins two other distinguished professors at Brandywine — Stephen Cimbala, distinguished professor of political science, and Margaret Signorella, distinguished professor of psychology and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.
“Laura’s commitment — to our campus and her students, to her field of study, to our local community and beyond — is extraordinary. She is passionate about science and highly accomplished in every facet of her work.”
—Marilyn J. Wells , chancellor at Penn State Brandywine
Brandywine Chancellor Marilyn J. Wells said Guertin has made significant contributions to the campus as an innovative educator, researcher and community leader.
“Laura’s commitment — to our campus and her students, to her field of study, to our local community and beyond — is extraordinary,” Wells said. “She is passionate about science and highly accomplished in every facet of her work. Laura is exemplary in so many ways, including her use of technology in the classroom, her support of undergraduate research, and her involvement with civic engagement and sustainability initiatives. She is truly deserving of the title ‘distinguished professor’ and we’re fortunate to have her as part of the Brandywine community.”
Wiebke Strehl, Brandywine’s director of academic affairs, noted the grants Guertin has received and her community partnerships have given her students many unique opportunities.
“Laura is able to bring science to life for her students, to engage them and help them improve their learning skills,” Strehl said. “She provides students with hands-on learning opportunities through partners such as Tyler Arboretum and through grant-funded projects that integrate technology into learning outcomes.”
“Laura is able to bring science to life for her students, to engage them and help them improve their learning skills."
—Wiebke Strehl , director of academic affairs
Guertin received her bachelor of arts degree in geology from Bucknell University and her doctorate in marine geology and geophysics from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She joined the Penn State Brandywine faculty in 2001.
Her primary research focus is the effective integration of innovative technologies to improve student learning in introductory-level geoscience courses, particularly to improve student scientific literacy, information literacy, and geospatial skills. Research projects have included student-produced audio narratives, ePortolios with Google Earth and ArcGIS Story Maps, and other technological tools for geoscience research and outreach. Her courses cover Earth science topics such as oceanography, climate change, energy, water and sustainability.
Penn State has honored Guertin with several University-wide awards, including the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006), the Teaching and Learning with Technology Impact Award (2019), and the President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration (2020). In 2009, she was recognized at the national level with the Biggs Earth Science Teaching Award from the Geological Society of America (GSA).
In 2015, Guertin was elected as a GSA Fellow and was named one of 100 women nationwide as an INSIGHT Into Diversity Inspiring Women in STEM. In 2020, the Journal of Geoscience Education recognized her with the journal’s Outstanding Reviewer Award. She has been honored with a U.S. Congressional Citation for civic and community engagement efforts and a United States Senate Certificate of Special Recognition for her work at sea with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
She is Brandywine’s coordinator for the environmental inquiry minor and Earth sustainability certificate. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Society of Women Environmental Professionals. She is the past chair of the Geoscience Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research and a former councilor-at-large with the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Currently, she serves as an elected member of the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling which advises U.S. participation in the International Ocean Discovery Program.