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Faculty Profile

Marcus Key

Joseph Priestley Professor of Natural Philosophy (1989)

Contact Information

on sabbatical 2023-24

Kaufman Hall Room 143


His teaching interests are sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology, evolution, extinction, energy resources, and sustainability. His research interests involve inferring evolutionary and sedimentary patterns and processes using fossil and living bryozoans. His current research involves evolution of biomineralization, marine biofouling, functional morphology of bryozoans, and geoarcheology. Interested in collecting fossils and going on field expeditions? Interested in research in paleontology? Contact me to become involved with field trip excursions, fossil collecting, or with laboratory work and research.

Curriculum Vitae


  • B.S., University of Texas at Austin, 1983
  • M.Phil., Yale University, 1986
  • Ph.D., 1988


  • Ganoe Award for Inspirational Teaching, 2004-2005

2022-2023 Academic Year

Fall 2022

FYSM 100 First-Year Seminar
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a "community of inquiry" by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will: - Critically analyze information and ideas - Examine issues from multiple perspectives - Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one's own views, with clarity and reason - Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and - Create clear academic writing The small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and their professor. In addition, the professor serves as students' initial academic advisor. This course does not duplicate in content any other course in the curriculum and may not be used to fulfill any other graduation requirement.

ERSC 307 Paleontology
Cross-listed with BIOL 401-01. A systematic study of the invertebrate and vertebrate fossil groups, plants, and their evolution and relationships to living forms. Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory a week. Prerequisite: 141, 142, or 151 or any 100-level BIOL course. This course is cross-listed as BIOL 401.

BIOL 401 Paleontology
Cross-listed with ERSC 307-01. An in-depth study of specialized subject areas of biology. Some recent topics included Experimental Virology, Ornithology, and Histology. Topic, course structure, credit, and instructor will be announced by preregistration. Prerequisite dependent upon topic. Offered occasionally.

ERSC 500 GIS Intern at Langan Engin

ERSC 500 Independent Study

ERSC 500 Internship at Union Quarries

ERSC 550 Independent Research

ERSC 560 Stu/Faculty Collaborative Rsch

MGCD 820 Env Haz/Glob Warm/Rsrc Depl
A survey of the essential elements of large-scale environmental hazards, global warming and resource depletion that act on national and international scales and that need to be integrated into adaption, response and mitigation strategies in order to better manage complex disasters.

Spring 2023

ERSC 142 Earth's Changing Climate
An overview of our understanding of climate processes and their interaction with the atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere based on studies of ancient climates, which inform our understanding of climate change now and into the future. Topics include drivers of climate change at different time scales, evidence for climate change, and major climate events such as ice ages. Emphasis will be placed on the last 1 million years of earth history as a prelude to discussing potential anthropogenic impacts on the climate. Case studies of major climate “players” such as the US and China will be contrasted with those most vulnerable, Africa and SE Asia to determine mitigation and adaptation strategies. The lab component will use historic climate data, field experiences, and climate modeling to interpret climate change processes. Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory a week.

ERSC 500 Independent Study