Program Faculty and Staff

Dr. Laura Peterson (2019 Program Director)

Associate Professor, Luther College

    Professor Peterson teaches Earth science courses as part of the environmental studies program at Luther College. Her time doing geologic fieldwork in Italy dates back to her senior year of college, when she collected and analyzed rock samples from a Miocene-aged sedimentary sequence not far from OGC as part of her senior thesis project. At Luther, she teaches courses in Environmental Geology, Environmental Geochemistry, Soils, and Earth History. Her current research focuses on understanding past climate change by reconstructing records of sea surface temperature using organic compounds that are preserved in marine sediment. Peterson received her PhD in geoscience from Brown University, and has been teaching at Luther ever since. She also served as director of the Italy program in 2012 and 2015.

    Dr. Alessandro Montanari

    Director, Osservatorio Geologico di Coldigioco

      Alessandro (Sandro) Montanari grew up in Ancona, Italy and obtained his M.S. in geology from the University of Urbino. For his Ph.D. at the University of California - Berkeley, he made seminal contributions to the understanding of the cause of the Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) mass extinction. After postdoctoral work in the United States, Montanari returned to Italy in 1992 to create the Osservatorio Geologico di Coldigioco, an important institute of geological research and teaching that now attracts researchers and students from all over the world. Montanari has published extensively on almost all aspects of Italian geology, is the recipient of the Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal from the European Geosciences Union and is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. He is also an accomplished musician and cook.

      Paula Metallo

      Resident Artist, Osservatorio Geologico di Coldigioco

        Paula Metallo was raised in upstate New York and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from SUNY-New Paltz in 1975. She has completed studies toward her M.F.A. at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Urbino, Italy and has studied at the Kala Institute in Berkeley, California. From 1983-2010, her work has been shown in 39 exhibitions throughout the world including Italy, Germany, and the United States. She writes art reviews for a number of publications including Art Week, Flash Art magazine, and Liberazione, and her artwork appears in numerous private collections.

        Dr. Cameron Davidson (2017 Program Director)

        Professor of Geology, Carleton College

          Prof. Davidson currently teaches Geology in the Field, Introduction to Geology, Mineralogy, and Petrology. He has also taught courses in structural geology, energy and the environment, and the Carleton College off-campus studies program at OGC. His research interests are in the processes of continental growth and he is currently using U/Pb and Hf isotopes from detrital zircon to work out the accretion and transport history of the Chugach-Prince William terrane in southern Alaska. Davidson received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1991. He spent three years as a postdoc in Basel, Switzerland working with Stefan Schmid on the emplacement and exhumation history of the Bergell pluton (Central Alps) before moving to Beloit College where he taught for seven years and then moved to Carleton College in 2002.

          Dr. Marcia Bjornerud (2016 Program Director)

          Professor, Lawrence University

            Marcia Bjornerud is the Walter Schober Professor of Environmental Studies and Professor of Geology at Lawrence University. She is also the author of Reading the Rocks: An Autobiography of the Earth, and a contributor to the New Yorker magazine. Professor Bjornerud first visited the Geologic Observatory of Coldigioco with a group of Lawrence University students in the summer of 2011. She looks forward to returning to OGC and sharing her combined interests in structural geology and Earth history with a new group of students. Bjornerud holds and M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.S. from the University of Minnesota.

            Dr. Jeff Clark (2013 Program Director)

            Associate Professor, Lawrence University

              Dr. Clark joined the faculty at Lawrence University twelve years ago. Prior to that, he worked at an ecological firm as a stream and wetland restoration specialist. He earned his PhD at Johns Hopkins University from the department of Geography and Environmental Engineering. His training is in fluvial geomorphology and his research interests focus on anthropogenic influences on river systems. He has studied the effects of Glen Canyon Dam on sand bars in the Grand Canyon and the interplay between land use changes and river channel response in Northeastern Puerto Rico. One of the many things that intrigues him about Italy and the area around OGC is the effects of plowing the steep hills of the Marche on downstream river valleys.