Assistant Professor of Geology
A geology field trip to Cove Palisades State Park in Culver is just underway when Hal Wershow inflicts the first pun of the day. Having introduced his students to some new volcanic terminology, such as ash-formed tuff, he sees his moment: "It's 'tuff' to wrap your head around," cracks the assistant professor, slowly unspooling his words for maximum impact.
Clearly in his element, Wershow enjoys sharing his love of geology with others, from the lighter side of a field trip to the remarkable landscapes of Central Oregon. But when the coronavirus sidelined his discipline's in-person field trips, the instructor improvised. He now brings a GoPro camera out to numerous field sites, where he leads his students on recorded explorations. A department assistant plays the part of the class to help spark discussions.
"I employ the same three-step learning cycle approach I would use on a normal field trip," Wershow says, referring to the sequence of observation, interpretation and application of knowledge. He has simply found new ways of engaging with his students — puns and all.
With a background that includes teaching at Everett Community College, interning at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and working as a field geologist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, Wershow arrived at COCC in 2018. He holds a bachelor's degree in geology from Pomona College and a master's degree from Western Washington University. A devoted bike commuter and world traveler, Wershow has journeyed from the jungles of Thailand to the rugged ranges of Albania.