Luther offers many opportunities for students to engage in research with faculty in Environmental Studies. In areas ranging from history and policy to ecology and climate science, Luther students gain firsthand experience researching pressing environmental issues. Supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, dozens of Luther students have spent a summer doing intensive research. For more information on applying for summer research, contact the program director.

Luther faculty who research topics related to environmental studies:
Anita Carrasco (Anthropology)
Eric Baack (Biology)
Jodi Enos-Berlage (Biology)
Kirk Larsen (Biology)
Beth Lynch (Biology)
Molly McNicoll (Biology)
Dawn Reding (Biology)
Brad Chamberlain (Chemistry)
Laura Peterson (Chemistry and Environmental Studies)
Steve Holland (Economics and Business)
David Faldet (English)
Andrew Hageman (English)
Richard Bernatz (Mathematics)
Jon Jensen (Philosophy and Environmental Studies)
Rachel Brummel (Political Science and Environmental Studies)
James Martin-Schramm (Religion)

Research News

Professor Peterson attends workshop on Pliocene Climate in Barcelona, Spain.

In mid-September Dr. Laura Peterson set off for sunny Barcelona, Spain to meet with other paleoclimatologists from colleges and universities around the world. There wasn't much time for paella and strolling the cobbled streets, however, as she and her colleagues had an important matter to discuss: climate conditions during the Pliocene period. Dr. Peterson, unique as she represented one of the few researchers from small colleges, contributed her findings on how the earth system responds to Milankovitch forcing. Peterson, with the help of student researchers in her lab at Luther, has been working to reconstruct past sea surface temperature change in the Southern Hemisphere. Peterson is looking to find how the internal processes in climate system evolved as the Earth transitioned from a single polar ice cap (Antarctica) to the world of today in which both the Northern and Southern hemispheres have polar ice.

A more thorough understanding of events in our geologic history could change our approach to climate change policy, disaster planning, and economic development. To read the full article on Dr. Peterson's research, visit the website

National Science Foundation grant awarded to Professor Peterson

A recent grant from the National Science Foundation provides three years of research support to Dr. Laura Peterson, who will work with Luther student researchers to investigate the evolution of the climate system over the past six million years. Read more about the grant award and Professor Peterson's research here.


Crater confirmed underneath Decorah

Decorah Crater

A crater has been discovered under Decorah. Aerial surveys conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in collaboration with the Iowa and Minnesota Geological Surveys provided evidence of an ancient meteorite impact, said to have occurred 470 million years ago.  The initial research that led to the discovery of this crater was conducted by Luther College staff including the late Jean Young, Luther College geology curator.

Watch the KWWL news report.

Read the full release from the U.S. Geological Survey.