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Camp Davis, Earth and Environmental Sciences: The Gumshoe and the Great Dying

In South Africa's Karoo, geology alumnus John Geissman is trying to crack a very cold case -- the unsolved mystery of an ancient mass extinction.

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John Geissman's Support for Camp Davis

John Geissman (B.S. 1973, M.S. ’76, Ph.D. ’80) first took the Geology & Mineralogy 440 course (Field Geology) as a student in 1973 at the Camp Davis Rocky Mountain Field Station, a teaching and research facility owned and operated by LSA. By the following summer, Geissman had negotiated himself into a TA position to help teach the class. Since then, he’s taught it for more than 40 years, missing just one year in all that time.

“I simply love the opportunity to interact with the students,” Geissman says about his repeated eager returns to camp. “I firmly believe that the best educational opportunity is one-on-one out in the field. It’s the best way to teach a subject like geoscience. Camp Davis is a precious educational and research facility.”

Over the decades, Geissman and Camp Davis have aged. Nearly 20 years ago, Geissman and his wife Molly (B.S.D.Hyg. 1974) — a professional artist who accompanies Geissman to camp as often as she can — recognized the need for a new classroom and office space at Camp Davis. Informally called the Dorr/Kelly Building, the name commemorates John A. Dorr, the Camp Davis director in 1965–1974, and Bill Kelly, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) and a favorite mentor of Geissman’s.

Geissman is happy to support Camp Davis, where he hopes to join the kitchen staff when he retires from his day job. He says, “I’m pleased to see the loyalty of the geoscience alums, not only to EES, but also to Camp Davis.”

by Elizabeth Wason