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Patrick Spencer.

Patrick Spencer

Grace F. Phillips Professor of Geology (Sabbatical Spring 2024)

Pat is a native Californian, was born in Los Angeles, and spent much of his youth in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended the University of Washington and settled on Geology as a major. Upon graduation in 1973, Pat took a job in the Geotechnical Consulting field. For the next 5 years, he was involved in field explorations related to building and road construction, powerplant siting and groundwater management in the greater Pacific Northwest including jobs in Alaska and Yukon territory. 

In 1978, Pat returned to graduate school at Western Washington University in Bellingham, where he focused his studies on micropaleontology, completing his Master’s degree with a project dealing with Carboniferous biostratigraphy in southeastern Arizona. In 1980 Pat enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Washington, focusing on physical and biostratigraphic studies on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.

Pat took a teaching post at Mt. Union College in northeastern Ohio in 1983. In 1984, he returned to the Pacific Northwest, accepting a position at Whitman College during the early years of the Geology Department. The emphasis of Pat’s teaching is Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, Paleobiology, and Earth History, but his heart lies in teaching the geology of the Pacific Northwest to non-major and potential geology major students. He also periodically teaches Pages of Stone: the literature of Geology.

Pat has taken Whitman Geology majors to many professional meetings where they presented the results of their research projects. Periodically, their combined work is published in regional and national journals.

Pat’s time outside of Whitman College is spent with his partner Kathy, his kids and his grandchildren (all 4 of them), and his dogs. Pat’s passion is growing Bonsai trees; his collection numbers about 50, ranging from a 60 year old Chinese juniper to several crabapples ranging from 5 to 40 years old, a 40 year old Witch Hazel, a 35 year old wild plum, and assorted other trees and interesting flowers.

GEOL 120 - Geologic History of the Pacific Northwest

An introductory geology course focused on the geologic history of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, northern California, and southern British Columbia.

GEOL 158/358 - Regional Geology

A 4-day field course for students to sythesize geologic concept and learn field skills.

GEOL 227 - Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

A course teaching the fundamentals of analysis of sedimentary rock and stratigraphic sequences. 

GEOL 312 - Earth History

An exploration of the earth's storied past, and the physical and biologic events which shaped it.

GEOL 338 - Pages of Stone

A critical reading of the work of writers on Earth science in a variety of styles.

GEOL 368 - Paleobiology

A comprehensive examination of the fossil record through Earth history.

Coming Soon

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