Robert Turner (he/him)

Rob Turner

Teaching Professor

B.S. Geology, Allegheny College
M.S. Geology, Western Washington University
Ph.D. Marine Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Office: UW2-210
Phone: 425-352-3616
Email: rturner1@uw.edu
Website: http://faculty.washington.edu/rturner1
Mailing: Box 358511, 11136 NE 180th Street, Bothell, WA 98011-1713


My broad background makes me a natural proponent of the interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research. Learning how to integrate different disciplinary perspectives and recognizing the limitations of the various disciplines are lessons that are critical for the post-graduate success of our students. I will be teaching a wide variety of courses in the IAS program to further explore the benefits of melding methods and perspectives associated with the natural sciences with those of other disciplines.

I consider teaching to be a contact sport. One of my goals is to engage students in the content and objectives of my courses with more interactive and experiential teaching methods. What students do tends to stick with them more than what they hear in a lecture. Consequently, my courses feature class discussions, debates, student presentations, group work, and many homework assignments that require students to actively work with and integrate the course content. As a geologist, oceanographer, and environmental scientist, I am also an advocate of independent field and laboratory work. Students learn and retain more by both figuring things out for themselves and getting out into the environments being discussed. Discovery-based, hands-on learning is the best! It is this belief that has led me to incorporate real research projects in virtually all of my courses. For me, teaching and research are intertwined. I am continuously looking for new studies that my students can undertake within a semester that serves the community interest.

Recent Courses

BES 303 Environmental Monitoring Practicum
BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry
BIS 314 Topics in Geography: Environmental Geography
BIS 392 Water and Sustainability
BCUSP DC III Environmental Science Practicum


When asked to give a seminar on my research a few years ago, I titled the talk: Adventures of a Wet Geologist. The bulk of my research has been focused on the interaction of land, people, and water and I consider just about any issue in that very broad realm to be fair game. I am particularly interested in engaging students to collect field data and conduct experiments that will ultimately contribute to better management of resources within a watershed or coastal zone.

Most of my research projects have revolved around these general areas of interest:

  • Flux and characteristics of water as it moves through the hydrologic cycle (hydrology/environmental chemistry)
  • Evolution of landforms (geomorphology/sedimentology)
  • Anthropogenic impacts on aquatic/marine sediments and ecology (biogeochemistry)

I have had great experiences monitoring the spatial and temporal variability in water quality as it fluxes from the atmosphere to the sea. Rain, streams, lakes, marshes, groundwater, estuaries - my students and I have sampled them all! In so doing, my students have gained a more visceral understanding of the hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles. Of course, it is also useful for identifying pollution sources and impacts, which is the real interest in the community.

I am also interested in water as a geomorphic force. For example, I have an abiding interest in the morphological and ecological response of the coastal zone to sea level rise, inlet breaching, storms, and human activities. I have also studied wave, current, sediment and landform dynamics in fluvial, wetland, and lake ecosystems.

My future agenda will no doubt feature collaborative research with students meant to foster more sustainable environmental management within the Puget Sound watershed. I also anticipate working with my IAS colleagues in forging innovative ways to involve local communities in our interdisciplinary research and educational outreach projects.

Selected Publications

Turner, R, McElroy, A, Gobler, C, Brownawell, B, Barnes, R, Terriciano, S, and Gibbins, B. 2006. Investigations of the Acute Effects of Mosquito Control Activities on Water Quality, Fish, and Shrimp in the Salt Marshes of Suffolk County, NY. Abstract for the Tenth Annual Frances S. Sterrett Environmental Chemistry Symposium, Hofstra University. 2pp..

McElroy, A, Gobler, C, Turner, R. 2005. Assessment of the Potential Effects of Mosquito Spraying on Local Organisms - Caging Study - Saltwater Assessment. Final technical report submitted for inclusion in Suffolk County Vector Control and Wetlands Management Long Term Plan and Generic Environmental Impact Statement.

Turner, RJ. 2005. Beachrock, in Schwartz, ML, ed., Encyclopedia of Coastal Science. Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands.

Turner, RJ. 2005. Final Report - Southampton College Initiative to Improve Peconic Estuary Water Quality. Submitted to the Peconic Estuary Program. 12p + attachments.