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Peter Drzewiecki - Professor, Environmental Earth Science

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin


Peter DrzewieckiWhat brought you to Eastern?

“After earning my Ph.D. in geology, I worked for Exxon’s (later ExxonMobil’s) research lab in Houston, TX. In addition to conducting research, part of my job included teaching in-house courses to company geoscientists. After a few years doing so, I realized two things: the most rewarding part of the job was the teaching, and I really did not like Houston! My wife and I were starting a family, and we wanted to be closer to relatives in the Northeast. I started to look for teaching jobs in the Northeast from Pennsylvania to Maine. Eastern was the only job that I really wanted after I left the interview, and I was excited to receive the offer.”

What is your favorite courses to teach?

“I teach a course to our second-year majors called Ancient Environments. This course looks at how the Earth formed and evolved through time from a molten ball of lava to its present conditions. It also includes the story of life — how it originated and evolved through time. I enjoy this course because it covers such a wide spectrum of geologic and biologic topics, and really helps students understand the world they live in. It is an early course for our majors, and I enjoy seeing the way they start to transition into budding geoscientists.“

Research interests

“My research focuses on trying to understand what the world was like in the past. I examine sedimentary rocks, which form on the Earth’s surface and record the climate and tectonic conditions at the time they were deposited. They also contain fossils which tell us about life at the time. One of my ongoing projects is to understand the climate and environments of the Jurassic rocks in the Connecticut Valley, which were deposited at the time dinosaurs roamed the region. A second project is understanding how the rising Pyrenees Mountains impacted the environments, climate and life in northeastern Spain during the Cretaceous Period.”  

One of my ongoing research projects is to understand the climate and environments of the Jurassic rocks in the Connecticut Valley, which were deposited at the time dinosaurs roamed the planet.

Peter Drzewiecki posing with students during a field trip

What is your teaching philosophy?

“My goal is to help students succeed in my classes and the Environmental Earth Science major by challenging them to become the best students possible. I encourage them to come see me if they have questions or are not performing well. I try to develop a relationship of trust and support, and to foster their interest in geology.” 

Memorable moments?

“My most memorable moments as a professor involve field trips with students and other faculty. We have taken students to Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and even Iceland. Many of the students had never left New England before. It is very rewarding to watch the excitement students have visiting some of the nation’s most iconic landscapes and experiencing different cultures. These trips build a comradery among students and faculty that can’t be obtained in the classroom, and that lasts throughout the students’ time at Eastern.” 

What do you like most about teaching at Eastern?

“The reason I chose teaching over research two decades ago is because I find it rewarding to know that I am helping to prepare young people to succeed in the world, and hopefully prepare them for meaningful careers. It makes me feel good knowing that I am doing something positive in their lives.”

Career advice for students?

“My career advice is to discover what it is you truly love to do and pursue that. If you find your passion, you will succeed in your job.”

Life advice for graduates?

“In addition to the career advice above, I would encourage students to find a balance in life between work, fun and family. Hopefully these are not mutually exclusive activities! I also encourage them to never stop learning about the world around them, keep asking questions and continually challenge themselves.”