Earth and Planetary Science
EPS Planetary Science

Support Us

Dear Friends and Alumni,

We are the UC Berkeley Department of Earth & Planetary Science. In 1868, Joseph Le Conte taught the first class in geology thus marking the incipient year of the founding of a world-class public university in Berkeley, California. In 1892, Andrew Lawson led students up the Berkeley Hills, beginning the first systematic field geology course in North America. Almost a century and a half later, a legacy of excellent teaching and scholarly inquiry drives all members of the department.

The earth & planetary science department has a highly distinguished reputation. Indeed, in the most recent survey of earth science graduate programs conducted by the US News & World Report, we are ranked third and number one among public universities. The department is also considered one of the top two earth science graduate programs in America, in terms of research activity and using survey-based weighing, in the comprehensive 2010 National Research Council rankings. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranks our department as the best in scholarly faculty productivity, and the American Geosciences Institute finds that the department produces the second largest number of Earth Science faculty in US universities.

Focusing on faculty members, I am proud to state that six of my colleagues are members of the National Academy of Sciences, including three female scientists. Professor Inez Fung was recently elected to the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States. The American Association for the Advancement of Science named Professor William Collins as an AAAS fellow. Last but not least, Professors Raymond Jeanloz, Jillian Banfield and Michael Manga are recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship, or the genius grant. These are just a few shiny examples of the accolodates our faculty have received in recognition of the high caliber of academic research and scientific knowledge we are all committed to in this department.

Faculty research projects are both scientifically revolutionary and historically significant. For example, Professors Steve Self, Paul Renne and Mark Richards and doctoral candidate Courtney Sprain traveled to India recently to test whether massive flood basalt volcanism (the Deccan Traps) was the cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction. Equally interesting, Professor David Romps continues to forecast lightning and to project how lightning rates will change over time with global warming.  Professor James Bishop investigates the mechanics of biogeochemical processes of aquatic and marine systems, in order to tackle big and small questions about the Earth’s oceans. Finally, the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory continues to revolutionize real-time geophysical data-gathering and now provides earthquake early warning though a prototype system to users like Bay Area Rapid Transition (BART). In this department, we focus on issues of relevance to the academic community and to society, as a whole.

As a public university, our mandate remains to teach students and the public about significant research like those mentioned above. This comes as a challenge particularly in a time of diminishing state funding. Therefore, as the chair of the department, I ask that you please consider supporting us. It is the generosity of friends and alumni that fuels our educational mission and shores up our teaching and research capabilities against further funding reductions. For example, the field camp for undergraduates is not possible without the support of alumni and the Ramsden Fund. The Perry Byerly, Thomas Mcevilly, and Don Tocher Fellowship Funds endow graduate students in Seismology; Friends of Earth & Planetary Science help us maintain a high quality seminar program. Space limits do not allow me to list all of our generous donors but rest assured that contributions support our socially-relevant research and teaching.

We invite you to be involved with our department by participating in our exciting seminars and colloquia. Additionally, I personally welcome your input via our website and by contacting me (email address listed below) on how we can better serve the university and the earth science scholarly community. I would be happy to talk with you about how small and large monetary contributions, appreciated stock, or other gifts to the department can (and do) facilitate our student’s academic endeavors. We also welcome your partnership with us financially to name a fellowship fund in the memory of a past alumnus, alumna or professor. You may also make a gift on this Berkeley webpage.

In the department’s 150 years, alumni and friends of the department have continued to serve as big promoters of earth and planetary science and Berkeley, in general. I humbly request that you contribute to the department according to your means. To conclude, I salute each and every one of you for your continued interest and support of earth & planetary science department. 


Richard M. Allen, the Garniss H. Curtis Endowed Department Chair and Professor