Courses at Brown University

Current Classes

Fall 2017


This graduate level course consists of a mixture of instructor and student-led lectures and discussions on topics related to meteorites and asteroids. Topics include historical and modern perspectives on the formation of asteroids, the chemistry and mineralogy of meteorites, laboratory and remote sensing methods used to analyze and classify meteorites, and spacecraft observations of asteroids, among others. In addition to attending lecture-based classes, students are expected to carry out a significant amount of independent study related to assigned focus topics and will be responsible for reporting their findings to the class and leading discussions on those topics. An individual research project, consisting of an in-class presentation and written paper, will be due at the end of the semester.

This undergraduate level course will examine the evolution of our Solar System and the geology of planetary bodies, including Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. We will discuss the origin of the Solar System from a geological perspective and explore how scientists combine observations from extraterrestrial samples such as meteorites with data returned by satellites and rovers to develop and test hypotheses related to planetary evolution. Emphasis will be on comparing geologic processes on these bodies to well-understood processes on Earth, results from past, current, and upcoming planetary missions, and the future of human and robotic exploration of space.


This graduate-level course consists of a mixture of instructor and student-led discussions on topics related to the sedimentary rock cycle on Mars as viewed through the lens of how we understand such processes on Earth. Topics will include sediment transport and deposition, erosion processes and rates, lithification and diagenesis, water-rock interaction, and cyclicity in strata, to name a few. A major goal of the course is to assess how the sedimentary rock record of Mars can be used to understand changes in depositional processes and environmental conditions through time. Results from Mars satellite and rover data will be discussed, with an emphasis on fundamental processes as understood from detailed studies of Earth’s sedimentary rock record.


This course consists of lectures, class discussion, laboratory assignments, and independent projects. The content is designed to provide students with a basic background in spectroscopy and remote sensing principles that are used in Earth and planetary applications. Topics include a) physical principles involved in remote sensing techniques, b) interaction of electromagnetic radiation and matter, c) science objectives and instrumentation of several current and planned planetary missions, d) approaches to remote analysis of the composition of planetary surfaces, e) imaging spectroscopy, and f) analytical approaches to remote sensing.