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Adam Maloof - Teaching

The benefits of including research experiences in the pedagogy of graduate and undergraduate education are diverse and lasting. Therefore, I treat all of my classes, even freshman seminar and core undergraduate geology courses, as research endeavors. I divide my courses into four overlapping skill sets that I hope to impart to students through experiential learning. First, students develop the ability to make keen observations of the natural world, and to translate observational data into salient questions about how Earth works. Second, students learn to distill these questions into a manageable group of hypotheses that can be tested with additional observations or analysis.  Third, students apply quantitative computational methods to extract more information from their data. And fourth, students learn to communicate their discoveries with publication quality text and illustrations.


Faculty: Adam Maloof and Amanda Irwin Wilkins, Director of the Princeton Writing Program
In this course, students will use drone-derived photographs and elevation models of landscapes, georeferenced field observations of the natural world, and data mining of the primary literature in combination with quantitative modeling and interpretation to answer questions like: How have ancient climate changes been preserved in modern landscapes and the rock record? What is the difference between climate and weather? How is climate changing now, and how do we measure it? What impact does climate change have on modern human society, and how have humans affected climate change? How do we quantify the uncertainties on measurements of climate change, and how do we communicate these uncertainties to the public?

GEO/WRI 201 is designed to help students build on what they learn as freshmen in the Writing Seminars about the values held in common across disciplines—e.g., articulating a compelling question or problem, making an argument based on evidence and analysis, engaging responsibly with sources—and translate them into the context of more advanced and discipline-specific writing projects. In the classroom, on campus field excursions, and on the mandatory eight (8)-day Fall-Break research trip to the American Southwest, students will gain practical experience piloting drones, collecting paleoclimatological and climatological data, and analyzing these data using software and programming languages like ArcGIS and Matlab. Through weekly writing and oral presentation workshops, students will learn to communicate their original research effectively within the formal structure of journal-style scientific writing and the LaTeX typesetting language. Students will emerge from this class ready to tackle the demands of junior and senior independent work, including how to use the research and writing process recursively to hone their ideas.  Enrollment in the course is by application only (email with one paragraph explaining your interest in the class). Juniors also are welcome to apply.


  • Writing Assignment  01: 15%
  • Writing Assignment 02: 30%
  • Writing Assignment  03: 20%
  • Problem Sets: 15%
  • Digital Field Notebook:  10% 
  • Citizenship: 10%

Also, there is a mandatory nine-day field trip (students cannot pass the course if they do not attend the trip) to New Mexico and Utah over fall break.  There is an optional weekend trip to Pennsylvania October 3-5.  [student course evaluations]

FRS 187 (Previously known as FRS 171; Fall '11, '12 & '13)

Professors: Adam C. Maloof and Frederik J. Simons
In this Freshman Seminar, you will combine eld observations of the natural world with mathematics,
physics, chemistry and computer science in order to answer questions like: Why are mountains
high? Why are some landscapes wetter, drier, smoother, or more jagged than others? How does
environmental change alter the course of civilization, and how do civilizations modify their environment?
In the classroom, through problem sets, and on campus excursions, you will gain practical
experience collecting geological and geophysical data in geographic context, and analyzing these. [student course evaluations]

FRS 145 (Fall '07, '08 & '09)

Professors: Adam C. Maloof and Frederik J. Simons
The surface of Earth today, an amalgamation of mountain ranges, basins, and the hydrosphere, records an integrated history of processes that act on a range of time scales spanning 17 orders of magnitude. The central question treated in this Freshman Seminar is: How does Earth's surface evolve in response to internal (e.g., tectonic and magmatic), surficial (e.g., weather, climate, and anthropogenic effects) and external (e.g., extraterrestrial) forcing? The seminar provides students with practical experience making geological and geophysical observations, and in particular, focuses on quantitative analysis of observables such as topography, gravity and weather. The classroom seminar is complimented by a mandatory week-long field trip to the Western United States. During this trip, students will develop research projects that involve geological and geophysical mapping of the interplay between recent volcanic explosion craters, changing climate, and anthropogenic demands on water resources in the Mono Lake region. All costs of the fall break trip are covered by the University. [student course evaluations]

GEO/CEE/ENV 370 & GEO 570 (Spring '07, '09, '10, '12 & '14)

Professor: Adam C. Maloof
This course presents a treatment of the physical processes that shape Earth's surface, such as solar radiation, deformation of the solid Earth, and the flow of water (vapor, liquid, and solid) under the influence of gravity. In particular, the generation, transport, and preservation of sediment are studied as diagnostic tools to link processes with the geologic records of Earth history and modern environmental change [Taught: SPRING 2012, T Th 1:30-2:50 pm, Guyot Hall 155]. [student course evaluations]

GEO/CEE 373 (Spring ’11 & ’13)

Professors: Adam C. Maloof and B. Schoene
An introduction to the physics and geometry of brittle and ductile deformation in Earth’s crust. We consider deformation at scales from atomic to continental, in the context of mountain building, rifting, and the origin of topography. Weekend Field Trips: Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York. [student course evaluations]

GEO 538

Professor: Adam C. Maloof and Michael Bender
This seminar examines the history of global change on Earth. Topics include the relationship between paleogeography, sea level and climate, the character and geometry of Earth's ancient magnetic field, the evolution of Earth's spin vector, the interpretation of global sea level variability, the deconvolution of periodic and stochastic forcing in sedimentary records, and the large-scale events and processes that affected global change and the evolution of life.