Meet Chair of Geology and Geography

Diane Burns talks geosciences and her students’ success

Meet Chair of Geology and Geography

News Staff

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series introducing various members of the campus community to Eastern for a better understanding of those who maintain the operations of the university.

Where did you receive your degrees from?

B.S. in English/Fine Arts from Loyola College, MD

B.S. in Geology from CA University, Sacramento, CA

M.S. in Geology from University of Wyoming

Ph.D. in Geology from University of Wyoming

If we saw your music playlist, what would the top five songs be?

This is a tough one!  How about (in no particular order):

She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult

Panic Switch by Silversun Pickups

Kashmir by Led Zeppelin

The River by Bruce Springsteen

Green and Red of Mayo by the Saw Doctors

Where is your favorite place on campus?

Under the trees by the campus pond

What is a place in Charleston you think everyone should know about?

Lake Charleston.  Lots of recent renovations to make a wonderful place to hike, bike or picnic.

Who is someone you admire in your field and why?

Marie Tharp.  She mapped the bottom of the ocean and opened scientific eyes to seafloor spreading, which led to a seminal theory in Geology – plate tectonics.  She, however, was a woman and was not credited with the discovery/research – her mentor, a male, received all of the acclaim.  It wasn’t until much later that she was recognized as the true scientist behind the work. 

Why did you go into the field you’re in?

I got into technical climbing many years ago.  When you are hanging off the side of a cliff, up close and personal with the matter that is preventing you from falling to your death, you can get a little curious about it.  I was also at a stage in my life where I was looking to redefine my career, so it dovetailed nicely with going back to school and getting into Geology as well as teaching.

What positions have you held during your career in higher education?

Visiting Instructor, Annually Contracted Faculty, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Department Chairperson

What are the most rewarding aspects of your current position?

Having students succeed beyond their graduation from EIU.

What are the most challenging aspects of your position?

Getting students to consider Geology/Geography as career options.  High schools have been cutting Geosciences out of their curriculum and, all too often, students who are good at science are steered to other STEM fields because the counselors know little about the *abundant* opportunities that exist.

What advice would you give to students in your department for their college careers?

     What you do now is the foundation on which you will continue to build for the rest of your life.  Make it as solid as you can so it is durable and strong; make it as diverse/broad as you can so you have room to grow.

What is your number one goal for your students?

     To set them up for success now and for the future.  I want them to make the best choices now so that they have zero regrets ten or more years down the road.  I want them to look back at their time at EIU and have them say, “that was the best choice I ever made.”

The News Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].