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Geological and Environmental Sciences
Kathy Giottonini
Administrative Assistant
Pacific Geosciences Center
1051 West Mendocino Ave
Stockton, CA 95211

Laura Rademacher, PhD

Associate Professor and Chair of Geological & Environmental Sciences


Phone: 209.946.7351
Email: lrademacher@pacific.edu
Website: Personal page

Office Hours

Geosciences Center, rm 107
Fall 2015: TBA


University of California at Santa Barbara, PhD Geological Sciences

University of Wisconsin at Madison, BS Geology & Geophysics

Curriculum Vitae 

Biogeochemical cycles

  • role of small upstream reservoirs in trapping organic carbon, nutrients, metals, and PAHs
  • roles of chemical weathering and groundwater in the global carbon cycle
  • deep-sea coral uranium geochemistry a proxy of ocean acidification and oxygen minimum zone processes 

Hydrology in the critical zone

  • influence of land use changes on recharge, runoff, and contaminant transport
  • effects of wildfires on catchment function, including biogeochemical and ecohydrological processes in California
  • hydrologic and geochemical controls on nitrate distribution in an agriculture-impacted region, Columbia Plateau aquifer, Washington
  • relationship between rare vegetation and mineral springs in the Sierra NevadaCoastal processes
  • effect of human activities and changing climate on coastal water, sediment, and nutrient budgets, northern California coast
  • role of coastal wetlands in carbon and nutrient cycles, northern California coast
  • impact of groundwater discharge on coastal ecosystems, California's Sonoma CoastSustainability
  • greenhouse gas inventory of Pacific's Stockton campus
  • waste audit of solid waste stream on Pacific's Stockton campus
  • impact of education and outreach on student drinking water habits

Teaching Philosophy

I am not a teacher who stands in front of the classroom and lectures. I would rather encourage students to think like scientists and provide opportunities for them to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. The best way to accomplish these goals is through curricula that engage students in the scientific method. In my courses, students are encouraged to ask questions about the earth. Through their course-related exercises, my students design experiments, gather observations, collect data, and test hypotheses to try to answer the questions they pose. Examples of these activities include greenhouse gas inventories, acid mine drainage studies, coastal erosion investigations, and collaborative projects with other universities, professors, professionals, and students in related fields.

Many of my course-related activities occur in the field where students are not bound by limitations of classroom exercises. Students are truly free to develop their own creative approaches to the problems they're challenged with. I routinely take non-major students to exciting locations to highlight interesting geologic relationships. The field exercises I arrange for majors provide opportunities to work in unique locations with real world data and answer relevant questions. All together, these skills and experiences provide the foundation my students will need to succeed in Earth and Environmental Science careers and live as informed citizens.

Courses Taught

Living on Planet Earth (GEOS 20): This seminar course is designed for residents of the Residence for Earth and Environmental Living and Learning (REELL) community.

Environmental Science for Informed Citizens (GEOS 43): This course is an interdisciplinary analysis of policy-relevant environmental problems related to water, energy, land use, and climate - with an emphasis on human interactions. The evaluation of these four themes is followed by a discussion of sustainability and the future of Earth's environment. This course includes laboratory and fieldwork and satisfies GE III-C. 

Soil, Water, and War (GEOS 45): This course investigates the linkages between limited natural resources and human conflicts. Historical topics that will drive discussion include water resource use in the United States and the Middle East, especially related to agriculture and urbanization. Scientific and political analysis of these conflicts will provide a foundation for achieving the course learning objectives which include developing an understanding of a) water resources, b) soil formation and sustainability, and c) the link between the natural environment, natural resources, and human conflict. This course includes field work and satisfies GE III-C.

Regional Geology (GEOS 65):  The goal of this course is to introduce students to the geology of a unique region with emphasis on the mutual interactions of society with its physical environment. This course includes a field-intensive study of plate tectonics, the formation of rocks and minerals, the hydrologic cycle, formation of landforms, geologic time, climate change, and human interactions with their environment. Possible study regions include Hawaii, Colorado Plateau, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Ireland, Iceland, the Canadian Rockies, and Alaska. Required field work occurs during spring break in the study region.  This course satisfies GE III-A (Link to GEOS 65 Spring 2010)

Global Change (GEOS 103): Students will study the interactions between the hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, and lithosphere that together make up the Earth System. This interdisciplinary view of our planet highlights how all Earth systems control or influence each other on time-scales from days to billions of years. Earth has dramatically and abruptly changed many times in the past with tremendous environmental repercussions - in this course we will seek answers to why these changes happen and what role we humans may play in shaping Earth's future.

Geochemistry (GEOS 142): This course investigates the application of chemical principles to the study of geologic processes. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the fundamental concepts of geochemistry, with a focus on the environment. Geochemistry is a tremendous tool for understanding how the earth functions and responds to change. This course will explore big picture aspects of science so you can understand how geologic and chemical processes interact and affect each other.  This course includes field work.

Hydrogeology (GEOS 148): A study of the different processes of water movement, including analysis of the importance of water in earth systems, the interactions of surface and subsurface water systems, and water as a human resource. Laboratory exercises and fieldwork involve methodologies and principles used in research and practical applications.  This course includes field work.

Additional courses include: Tracer Hydrology, Isotope Hydrology, Biogeochemical Cycles, Physical Geography, Environmental Geology, Earth Science, Natural Disasters


Brown, K.B., J.C. McIntosh, L.K. Rademacher, K.A. Lohse (2011) Impacts of agriculture irrigation recharge on groundwater in a basalt aquifer system: A multi-tracer approach, accepted for publication in Hydrogeology Journal.

Jung, H.Y., T.S. Hogue, L.K. Rademacher, T. Meixner (2009) Impact of wildfire on source water contributions in Devil Creek, CA: Evidence from end-member mixing analysis, Hydrological Processes, 23:183-100.

Barco, J., T.S. Hogue, V. Curto, L.K. Rademacher (2008) Linking hydrology and stream geochemistry in urban fringe watershed, Journal of Hydrology, 260:31-47.

Rademacher, L.K., C.C. Lundstrom, T.M. Johnson, R. Sanford, J. Zhao, Z. Zhang (2006) Experimentally determined uranium isotope fractionation during reduction of hexavalent U by bacteria and zero valent iron, Environmental Science and Technology, 40, 6943-6948.

Rademacher, L.K., J.F. Clark, D.W. Clow, G.B. Hudson (2005) Old groundwater influence on stream hydrochemistry and catchment response times in a small Sierra Nevada catchment: Sagehen Creek, California, Water Resources Research, 41, DOI 0.1029/2003WR002805.

Rademacher, L.K., J.F. Clark, J.R. Boles (2003) Groundwater residence times and flow paths in fractured rock determined using environmental tracers in the Mission Tunnel; Santa Barbara County, CA. Environmental Geology, 43, 557-567.

Rademacher, L.K., J.F. Clark, G.B. Hudson (2002) Temporal changes in stable isotope composition of spring waters: Implications for recent changes in climate and atmospheric circulation. Geology, 30, 139-142. 

Rademacher, L.K., J.F. Clark, G.B. Hudson, N.A. Erman, D.C. Erman (2001) Chemical evolution of shallow groundwater as recorded by spring waters, Sagehen basin, California. Chemical Geology, 179, 37-51.