Museum of Geology Faculty and Staff Bios
Laurie Anderson Head & Professor, Geology & Geological Engineering/Director, Museum of Geology
Laurie Anderson grew up in west-central Minnesota, spending most of her summers on the shores of West Battle Lake collecting rocks and shells. She received a B.A. (summa cum laude) in geology, biology, and music from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1985. She earned a M.S. in geology from Bowling Green State University in 1987, receiving an Amoco Foundation Geology Fellowship. Her thesis project was a paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Pliocene Pinecrest sand of southwestern Florida based on ostracode assemblages. She pursued a Ph.D. in geology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning her doctorate in 1991. Her dissertation research examined gastropod predation patterns on bivalves in the Neogene of tropical America, as well as explored the interplay of paleoenvironment and morphometric patterns in Neogene corbulid bivalves, especially from the northern Dominican Republic. While at Madison she received both a Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Fellowship and a Shell Companies Foundation Fellowship.
In 1991, Dr. Anderson joined the faculty in the Department of Geology & Geophysics at Louisiana State University and held the rank of assistant professor (1991-1997), associate professor (1997-2011), and department chair (2003-2007). Dr. Anderson also served as an Adjunct Associate Curator in the LSU Museum of Natural Sciences from 1998 to 2011. While at LSU, Dr. Anderson received the College of Basic Science Research Award, Dr. Henry V. Howe Distinguished Professorship, and the Harrison Family Field Camp Professorship. She also received several commendations for excellence in teaching and a best paper award from the Journal of Paleontology (for 2003). Her sabbatical appointments included a Temminck Fellowship at the National Natural History Museum (Naturalis) in Leiden, the Netherlands. Dr. Anderson has a species named after her, Pachydon andersonae Wesselingh 2006, an extinct freshwater bivalve from the western Amazonia.
The primary foci of Dr. Anderson's research are the paleobiology, paleoecology, taphonomy, and phylogeny of mollusks, particularly the Bivalvia. Her work combines field research in both modern and ancient settings, museum studies, and laboratory analyses. Her teaching focuses on the biological history of Earth/geologic history of Life, and she especially enjoys teaching field courses.
Sally Shelton Associate Director/Instructor
B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Museum Science Option, Texas A&M University, 1979
M.A. in Museum Science with thesis in paleontology, Texas Tech University, 1984
Postgraduate diploma in geological conservation, Geological Conservation Unit, Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge University, UK, 1993
Darrin Pagnac, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Geology
Darrin Pagnac was born in November, 1971 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He grew up on a small farm in northwestern Minnesota near the town of Stephen. At an early age Darrin became interested in paleontology, particularly after watching a filmstrip about dinosaurs in kindergarten. Throughout elementary and high school he constantly prepared for his career taking all the science courses possible and absorbing every book about ancient life he could.
In the fall of 1990 Darrin began studying at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He received his BS in Geology in the spring of 1995. He then went on to the South Dakota School of Mines where he received his MS in Paleontology in 1998. During his time at Tech Darrin studied sauropod dinosaurs, the immense, long-necked, herbivorous dinosaurs common in the Jurassic Period approximately 150 million years ago. It was during this time that he worked at the Little Houston Quarry near Sundance, Wyoming.
In the fall of 1999 Darrin moved to Riverside, California, seventy miles east of Los Angeles, where he began his Ph.D. work. Darrin conducted dissertation research on mammals from the Mojave Desert that existed during the Miocene epoch, approximately sixteen to twelve million years ago. Darrin received his Ph.D. in the spring of 2005.
Darrin then returned to Rapid City as the Haslem Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of Geology in Rapid City where he has been since 2006. Darrin continues his research on Miocene mammals, but is gradually returning to work with Jurassic dinosaurs.
Christina Belanger Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Geology
Christina Belanger grew up in central California where from an early age she collected rocks and fossils - a bucket of rocks was the best gift one could give her. Childhood career goals oscillated between growing up to become a paleontologist and becoming a marine biologist. After enrolling at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Christina combined those two early goals and began building a study program in marine paeloecology by taking as many geology, ecology, and zoology courses possible. She also studied a ~45,000 year old fossil deposit rich in clams and snails that was preserved in the sea cliffs just below her college dorms in Santa Barbara. Christina received a B.A. in Creative Studies with an emphasis in biology from UCSB's College of Creative Studies in 2005.
She then went on to a Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago where her dissertation work focused on understanding biotic responses to a global warming event that occurred ~20-16 million years ago. By combining geochemical and geological techniques, she was able to reconstruct the environmental changes that occurred in her field site on the coast of Oregon and ask how the organisms that lived there (clams, snails, and foraminifera) changed in response to the environment - understanding these past changes can help us predict how organisms will respond to future warming. Christina received a Ph.D. in 2011 and then remained at the University of Chicago to begin new research on how environmental factors affect the biogeography of marine organisms.
Christina joined the faculty at SDSM&T in 2012 where she will continue to use fossil records to understand how organisms respond to environmental change. This research combines fieldwork on land and on drilling ships at sea with geochemical analyses back home in the lab. Christina'a teaching focuses on Earth History, Invertebrate Paleontology, Micropaleontology and Oceanography.
Clint Boyd, Ph.D Haslem Postdoctoral Fellow
Clint Boyd grew up in southeastern Wisconsin in a small, rural town. Throughout his childhood he spent as much time outdoors as possible, developing a deep connection with the natural world. In 2000 he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Zoology major, but signed up for an introductory geology course on a whim his first semester. After attending his first geology lecture he added Geology as a second major. Later that same semester he began volunteering in the Fossil Preparation Lab at the University's Geology Museum, working on dinosaur fossils from Montana. In 2003 he took over as supervisor of the Fossil Preparation Lab and as field leader of the Museum's dinosaur expedition to the Hell Creek Formation of Montana.
He entered the PhD program at North Carolina State University in 2005, studying the systematic relationships of basal ornithischian dinosaurs with a focus on North American taxa. During his graduate studies he developed a deep interest in systematic biology methods and practices, leading to the development of a new software program for comparing evolutionary trees to the stratigraphic record and new methods for assessing historical patterns in our understanding of the fossil record. Beginning in 2008, he spent his summers working at Badlands National Park, assisting with locality surveys and monitoring paleontological resources. He eventually transferred with his advisor to The University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Ph.D. in 2012.
Clint arrived at SDSM&T in the fall of 2012 as the Haslem Postdoctoral Fellow. He currently splits his research time between working on the taxonomy and systematic relationships of North American basal ornithischian dinosaurs and studying Eocene and Oligocene mammals from the White river Group of South Dakota. He also continues his research into historical trends in our understanding of the fossil record.
Heidi Carr Program Assistant I
Heidi Carr was born in northeastern Ohio. She graduated from Canfield High School in June of 1998, and then attended The Ohio State University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Sciences in December of 2003. She then attended the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota from August, 2004 to May, 2007. Heidi is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and the Geological Society of America. She was awarded the degree of Master of Science in Paleontology in May of 2007. Heidi is currently the Program Assistant in the Museum of Geology, loves to work on exhibits and work with her student employees in the Museum Store.
James Martin, Ph.D. Emeritus Curator
B.S., M.S. South Dakota School of Mines and Techology
Ph.D. University of Washington
September 2008 Inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame
James Fox, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor