Professor of Geology

Office: Science 182
Phone: (541) 552-6479
Fax: (541) 552-6415
Email: lane@sou.edu

Probably the best thing about working here is the philosophy we have at Southern Oregon University. What we do here is entirely about our students. At SOU we specialize in working with undergraduate students, and doing so in a very personal and individual way.

We know our students. We work with them on a daily basis. Our majors have a place directly across the hall from the faculty offices (The legendary “Orange Room” – so called because of the ‘60’s burnt orange color scheme); they walk across the hall to talk with us….and we walk across the hall to talk with them. Our department has a long history (and takes great pride in it…) of personal attention to our students – who they are, where they come from, and what they wish to accomplish. This attention extends beyond our majors. Many SOU students come through our general education program and leave as friends of ours. Years after students have taken classes in our general education program we receive cards, letters and phone calls from them. They’ve moved well beyond their student years, but will always remain friends. We’re recognized annually as one of the best departments on campus for assisting students with disabilities. As department chair, I’m very proud of my colleague’s commitment to our students, and pleased that SOU is committed to our efforts.

This commitment to our students extends to our research efforts. All my research activities over the last decade have involved my students, normally with the student having a leading role in her/his particular research project, and including a lead position on publications and presentations.

Meg Dolan (’04) surveying stream bedform on the South Fork Little Butte Stream, Jackson County, Oregon.

The South Fork Little Butte Stream was dramatically impacted by a major flood event on New Year’s Day, 1997. Students have been involved in monitoring the changing morphology of the stream since that time.

I’ve done quite a number of different things over a nearly 30-year career as a geologist: petroleum geologist, geophysicist, engineering geologist, environmental hydrologist, environmental geochemist, as well as 20+ years working with young people as a university professor. I like to think that all those experiences have added value to what I’m able to offer my students….

My research interests here in southern Oregon center on the physical and chemical hydrology of surface waters (lakes and rivers) and groundwater. Put in other words, I work with water quality, so that people know how good (or poor) water is for various types of uses that interest us. I also work with water abundance (yes, water abundance is actually an issue in Oregon…). Further, I work with the concept of stream “health” as it applies to the flora and fauna that use the stream and stream area. This means that I (and my students) work with people from Biology, Chemistry, and Geography (computer mapping) as well.

Additionally, our research efforts with undergraduate students here at SOU almost always include some type of partnership with various agencies and firms. An example is our partnership with the Medford Water Commission – the agency responsible for public water for over 100,000 residents of our valley here in southern Oregon. The primary water source for those 100,000+ residents of the valley consists of a series of springs in the High Cascades of southern Oregon. The relationship of surface and groundwater flows that produce those springs is a complex one; we continue our efforts in understanding the complexities.

Bob Jones of the Medford Water Commission (and an SOU graduate in geology) with students at our field site on the South Fork Little Butte Stream, Jackson County, Oregon.

Students perform a settling velocity test in the field to determine the relative amounts of sand, silt, and clay found in a volcanic soil from the Big Butte stream system, Jackson County, Oregon.

In addition to work in hydrology, I’ve also an interest in the glacial geology of the high Cascades of southern Oregon and northern California (due in part, I suppose, to a lifelong interest in mountaineering and climbing some of the big peaks). A student interested in glacial geology would certainly find me willing to work with her/him. But heck, I’m interested in all kinds of things that have to do with earth science – and even more broadly, natural science. I have worked and will continue to work with students on a wide range of topics.

“…holding forth in the field…as I’ve been known to do on occasion…”

I can only say to you once again: This place is special. SOU is entirely about our students. The natural setting of southern Oregon – the rivers, lakes, valleys, mountains (both the Cascades and the Klamaths), and the incredible southern Oregon coast – is a dream for field-based work in the natural sciences. If I’ve enticed you with this brief look, if you think you might be interested, please contact me at lane@sou.edu , (Tele: 541-552-6479), or the SOU Admissions Office at admissions@sou.edu.

“…working hard (hardly working) on top of Mt. McLoughlin, southern Oregon…”