SciTech Adjunct Faculty - Ronald McDowell

McDowell, Ronald
Adjunct Faculty - Geology
Biology, Chemistry, GeoScience

I have been a part-time instructor at Fairmont State since 1994.  My full-time job is as a Senior Research Geologist with the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey in Morgantown.  I received my B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was employed in the communication electronics industry for several years before returning to school to study geology.  I received my M.S. in Geology from the University of Kansas and my Ph. D. in Geology from the Colorado School of Mines.  Immediately following completion of my doctoral studies, I became project geologist for a mining company exploring for gold and other metals in the Province of Nova Scotia, Canada.  After two years in this position, I became director of product development for a mapping software company.   

Since 1991, I have been employed by the State Geological Survey, initially as a mathematical geologist and more recently as a field geologist and geochemist.  I usually spend my summers mapping the bedrock in and around Pendleton County, WV.  During the academic year, I teach Historical and Environmental Geology at Fairmont State University.

What have you learned while teaching at Fairmont State?: 

I think the most important thing I've learned while teaching at Fairmont State is that as wonderful and time-saving as digital technology is, sometimes there is no substitute for personal interaction.  Videos and PowerPoint presentations may catch the students' attention but face-to-face discussions insure that the message underlying the presentation gets understood.  Plus, getting to know students personally is one of the best parts of teaching at Fairmont State.

What do your students like best about your class?: 

My Environmental students like the case studies related to geological happenings that often make their way into the newspaper headlines.  They also enjoy videos on geological hazards which are as good as any sci-fi disaster movie.  My Historical students like the hands-on lab work with fossils and sedimentary rocks.

Ph.D. Colorado School of Mines