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Dr. Jen O'Keefe

O-Keefe.jpgProfessor of Geology and Science Education
Program/Dept: Science Education / Department of Physics, Earth Science and Space Systems Engineering
Degrees, Licensures and Certifications: PhD., Geology, University of Kentucky; M.S., Geology, Texas A&M; B.A., Geology, Cornell College
Research Interests: Paleoecology using Palynology, Organic Petrography, Geochemistry and Fossil Fungi. 


Dr. Jen O’Keefe received her bachelor's in geology from Cornell College, her master's in geology from Texas A&M and Ph.D. in geology from The University of Kentucky. She is an accredited organic petrographer (SCAP A&B and DOMVR) through the International Committee for Coal and Organic Petrography (ICCP). O'Keefe brings her expertise in earth systems science to science education through both her teaching and research. She teaches inquiry-based face-to-face and online asynchronous courses in earth systems science for teachers at the undergraduate and graduate level for teachers, and historical geology, geomorphology, paleontology, micropaleontology and coal geology at the undergraduate level for earth systems science majors. O'Keefe is an active scholar and routinely supervises undergraduate and Craft Academy researchers. Her research ranges from curriculum and instruction to both academic and applied aspects of geology, including paleoecology, biostratigraphy and coal systems characterization, as well as studies of bee diet through melissopalynology (pollen in honey). Current research projects have four main focuses:

  1. Fungi as ecological indicators and agents of coal formation in Cretaceous – Holocene sediments
  2. Improving palynology processing techniques
  3. Biostratigraphy and paleoecology of Paleogene deposits, onshore Gulf of Mexico
  4. Pollen content of regional honey samples.
In the past O'Keefe has worked extensively on the petrography and chemistry of coal combustion by-products and coal mine and seam fires. She was among scientists featured in the Discover magazine article, “Earth on Fire” in July 2010. She is an active member of several professional societies and has served as chairman of the Energy Geology Division of the Geological Society of America and many in capacities, including president, of AASP – the Palynology Society. She is a member of the editorial board for the International Journal of Coal Geology.

Contact Info

Lappin Hall 404A