Courses Taught

ES222 Mineralogy

ES302 History of the Earth

ES401,402 Senior work for Distinction

ES491,492 Directed Study Research

ES771 Isotope Geochemistry and Geochronology







The courses I teach provide a broad introduction to some of the most exciting questions throughout Earth Science today as well as several of the methods to go about addressing them. Laboratory work and field trips are important components of each class. Courses are designed to prepare students for academic research of their own, move into Earth Science careers in industry, environmental consulting, or government, or simply to become educacated about the Earth around us and how it has been shaped through time and effects our everyday lives. These courses also provide a window into research going on in the department as well as opportunities to get involved.


Below are descriptions of courses I taught while at Boston University. Look for updated course listings from me this year at Boston College!


ES222 Mineralogy (Fall)

Mineralogy is the study of the fundamental solid building blocks that make up the earth and how these minerals interact with all parts of the Earth system. Mineral chemistry and physical properties play important roles in the Earth's deep interior (core and mantle), the dynamic crust and platetectonics, soil development and weathering, volcanism, metamorphism, sedimentation, hydrothermal and ore-forming systems, climate, life, society and the environment. This class will touch on all of these themes. Minerals also preserve the only record of ancient Earth processes. Well beyond learning to identify minerals, in this class you will learn how to read the mineral record using the petrographic microscopes and more. Three hour lab. One full-day field trip. Download sample syllabus HERE. Download informational flyer HERE.


ES302 History of the Earth (Spring)

The history of the earth begins 4.56 billion years ago with the formation of the solar system and continues to unfold today.  During this vast expanse of time, an incredible array of events and processes have shaped the earth into the planet we know: a planet we continue to shape ourselves.  In this class, we will do more than simply review an exhaustive list of events in Earth’s history.  As students of science, we should seek not just to know what the history is, but how we know it.  You will learn the interpretive tools of Earth Science as we explore far ranging issues including the age of the Earth, the origin of life, the evolution of the atmosphere and oceans, platetectonics and the evolution of the continents, mass extinctions, climate change, and human impacts on the Earth. Two hour lab. One full-day field trip.


ES401,402 Senior Work for Distinction

Each year, Prof. Baxter recruits one (or in exceptional cases) two students to pursue full year Senior Thesis research, typically involving hands-on use of the TIMS Facility. Senior Thesis include a formal thesis defense in the spring, the writing of a full thesis that is archived in the BU libraries. A Senior Thesis is also excellent preparation for graduate school. Outstanding seniors wishing to develop an independent full-year research project under the guidance of Prof. Baxter should contact him directly to discuss qualifications, and possible research projects. Students intrested in conducting research with Prof. Baxter are strongly encouraged to take ES222 and, if possible, ES771. Both Earth Science and Chemistry majors are encouraged to apply.


ES491,492 Directed Study

Outstanding undergraduates beginning as early as sophomore year may also apply to conduct semester long research projects with Prof. Baxter. These projects can be quite varied in scope and methodology ranging from hands-on isotope geochemistry in the TIMS Facility, thin section petrography, field work, library research, and more. Directed Study projects can be a gateway into Senior Thesis research. Both Earth Science and Chemistry majors are encouraged to apply.


ES771 Isotope Geochemistry and Geochronology (Fall, every other year)

This is a graduate level course intended for Earth Science as well as Biology and Chemistry graduate students wishing to understand how radiogenic and stable isotope geochemistry can be used to interrogate almost every aspect of modern and ancient Earth processes. Isotopes may be used both as tracers and chronometers of various earth processes. In this class, we will learn the history of isotope geochemistry, learn how precise isotope ratios are measured, use the TIMS Facility, and study how many isotope systems (ex. Sr, Nd, U-Pb, K-Ar, He, O, S, C etc) have been used to probe such diverse topics as platetectonics, the origin of life, mantle mixing and magmatism, contaminant transport, paleothermometry, atmospheric chemistry, and more. In exceptional cases, outstanding undergraduates may take this class with permission of Prof. Baxter. Any student wishing to conduct research in the TIMS Facility is strongly encoiuraged to take this class.




Boston College, Earth & Environmental Sciences, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Phone: 1 (617) 552-1124