Department Chair's Letter

Dear Friends and Alumni,

We are the UC Berkeley Department of Earth & Planetary Science. The first class in geology at Berkeley was offered in 1868, thus marking the incipient year of the founding of a world-class public university. In 1892, Andrew Lawson led students up the Berkeley Hills, beginning the first systematic field geology course in North America, a course we continue to teach (EPS 101). And the extensive report on the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906 led by Lawson is by many considered to represent the birth of modern earthquake science. More than a century later, a legacy of excellent teaching and scholarly inquiry drives all members of our department.

US News and World Report ranks us as number two. The department is 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. I am proud that nine of my colleagues are members of the National Academy of Sciences, including three female faculty members. More PhD recipients in the Earth Sciences receive their undergraduate education at Berkeley than at any other university. Currently, a quarter of our undergraduates are members of underrepresented minorities, and we hope to be an increasingly diverse department in all its parts; committed to enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion. Two years ago, the department adopted a new strategic plan for enhancing diversity; we have come a long way and have ambitions to go a lot further. 

As a public university, our mandate remains to teach students and the public about Earth science. This can be challenging during times of reduced state funding and uncertainty in Washington. 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. Friends of Earth & Planetary Science help us maintain a vibrant seminar program. Your contributions support our socially relevant research and teaching.

Please keep in touch. We invite you to participate in our exciting seminars and colloquia. I would be happy to talk with you about all your ideas for how our department can facilitate our academic endeavors. We also welcome your partnership to create new opportunities or to name a fellowship in the memory of a past alumnus, alumna or professor. You may also make a gift online for either The Friends of Earth & Planetary Science Fund or The Field Geology and Digital Mapping Fund or The Earth & Planetary Sciences Graduate Student Support Fund.

In the department’s 150 years, our alumni and friends have made a difference. In whatever way you can help, your contributions are deeply appreciated.


Michael Manga, Department Chair and Professor

Fall 2023