Geology and Geological Engineering

Dr. Darrin Pagnac
Vertebrate Paleontology
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Teaching Synopsis

My favorite aspect of my job is teaching and interacting with students. I especially enjoy instruction of field paleontology as well as showing students spectacular vertebrate fossil specimens. I learn just as much from my students as I hope they learn from me.

Specific courses include:
  • GEOL 372 / Dinosaurs, 3 cr. (undergraduate), An in-depth introduction to dinosaur paleontology. This course will utilize geologic and biologic principles to foster a comprehension of dinosaur systematics, phylogeny, biology, and evolution. Dinosaurs will also be used as a focus to examine the scientific method, critical thinking, and the public perception of science.

  • GEOL 471/571 / Field Paleontology, 3 cr. (undergraduate/graduate), A field-oriented course, conducted at various fossil localities, stressing collection and detailed documentation of fossils for exhibition and research. Course may be repeated as need for additional graduate credit requirements, but repeat registration must be taken at a different field site than previous registrations.

  • GEOL 771 / Paleobiology, 4 cr. (graduate), A detailed examination of the study of fossil organisms, including the use of biological and geological information to interpret the patterns and processes of past life. Emphasis will be placed on the diversity and evolution of fossil organisms and the methods by which paleontologists study them. Lab sessions will be devoted to study of the taxonomy and anatomy of pertinent groups of fossil organisms and their living relatives.

  • GEOL 775 / Phylogenetic Systematics, 4 cr. (graduate), An overview of current methods and best practices for evaluating the systematic relationships of taxa and for testing hypotheses within a phylogenetic framework. Course also includes an overview of recent phylogenetic hypotheses of relationships within and among major clades. Laboratory will consist of directed examination of the morphological characters and phylogenetic hypotheses of specific clades.

  • GEOL 775 / Terrestrial Paleoecology, 2 cr. (graduate), A study of the relationships between organisms and environment and biotic interactions as interpreted from the fossil record with particular emphasis on Mesozoic and Cenozoic terrestrial systems. Course will include the background and philosophy of paleoecological study, contemporary methods for ecological interpretation of fossil organisms and communities. Course format will consist of lecture, directed readings, and discussion.

contact: Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, 501 E. Saint Joseph St., SDSMT, Rapid City, SD 57701
phone: (605)394-2469 / fax: (605)394-6703 / email: