Eliza Richardson


I'm Dr. Eliza Richardson and I am the author for this course, as well as the lead faculty member for the Master of Education in Earth Sciences program. I am an assistant professor of geosciences at Penn State's University Park campus and I am also a fellow of the Dutton Institute for e-Education, housed in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Like Bruce Springsteen, I was born in New Jersey. Unlike The Boss, however, I grew up in Blacksburg, VA. I also spent time living in the Caribbean and England because my parents were academics and sometimes traveled for their research. I received my undergraduate degree in 1996 from Princeton University where I majored in geology & geophysics and got a certificate in East Asian studies. I also manned the goal for Princeton's women's water polo team for four years. I went to graduate school at MIT and finished my Ph.D. in 2002. My doctoral research was in seismology; I managed several stints of fieldwork at about 3 km below the ground in South Africa studying the earthquakes induced by gold mining. My current research involves the physics of earthquake sources. I am interested in how earthquakes begin, what makes them stop, and what happens along a fault while the earthquake is going on. When scientists can describe precisely these three parts of an earthquake, we'll be a lot closer to predicting them or at least mitigating the damage they cause. Before I became the lead faculty member of the Master of Education in Earth Sciences program, I had never taught online, I had never developed courses designed for teachers, and I had never organized a curriculum. (And they still let me do it! ha!) I have discovered that teaching adults online has many advantages, and five of them are pictured below. Yes, I do have five kids, but the flexibility of the asynchronous online environment means that no matter who puked during the night, who forgot their lunch, or who totalled the car, I can still teach this course effectively. It also means that I am sympathetic to the demands of your career and family.