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History of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Rensselaer

Geology at Rensselaer traces its history to the beginning of the Institute itself. Amos Eaton, a Rensselaer founder and first senior professor, has been acclaimed as the Father of North American Geology. As a geology professor at Rensselaer from 1824 to 1842, he conducted the first geologic surveys in the Western Hemisphere. Eaton and his students dominated geologic research in New York State for about 20 years, particularly the study of the Devonian.

One of Eaton's students, James Hall, was among the most influential alumni of Rensselaer. Probably no other single person had a greater influence on the development of paleontology in North America. Hall received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Rensselaer and eventually became a professor here, as well as Director of the New York State Geological Survey.

The tradition of innovation and excellence in geology has continued at Rensselaer through the efforts of such notable geologists as Douglass Houghton, Henry B. Nason, J. M. Clarke and Shephard W. Lowman, to name only a few individuals. That tradition is carried on today by a commitment to research — the kind of research that has gained us international recognition — and an equal commitment to teaching.

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