Teaching and Research

I am a geologist with broad, interdisciplinary interests in both research and teaching. I have been at the University of Vermont since 1993. I oversee the Cosmogenic Nuclide Lab and the Landscape Change Program. Since coming to UVM in 1993, my students and I have published more than 80 refereed papers and presented more than 200 abstracts on research ranging from the erosion of Africa to teaching hydrology via service learning. Our work has been supported by grants from the NSF, DoD, USGS, UVM, and private foundations.

One theme ties my research and that of my students together: erosion. Over the past two decades, my students and I have used a variety of techniques to figure how, where, and how quickly material is shed from Earth's surface. We have used cosmogenic isotopes such as 10-Be to track sediment from its origin on bedrock outcrops to its resting place in sedimentary deposits all over the world. In the arctic, we've examined the influence of ice temperature on glacial erosion in Baffin Island and Greenland. In the deserts of Australia, we've demonstrated that rock surfaces remain nearly unchanged over millions of years. In Vermont, we've used lake cores, alluvial fan trenches, and the historic image record to document how 10,000 years of mega storms and 200 years of human impact have changed the face of our landscape.

I enjoy teaching and mentoring at a variety of levels. Since coming to UVM, I have advised six doctoral and 28 master's students, all of whom have gone on to work in geoscience fields or pursue additional degrees and most of whom have published their work in refereed, professional journals including Nature and Science. Each year, I coordinate a graduate seminar that stresses the importance of communication and which has always included students from a wide variety of natural science disciplines including Geology, Natural Resources, Botany, Soil Science, and Engineering. My undergraduate teaching includes Geomorphology, a course that with support from NSF's distinguished teacher scholar program, I am overhauled to incorporate pedagogical best practices. Each year I teach Earth Hazards to 200+ students; it's a course dedicated to sharing my excitement about the importance and societal relevance of science while teaching introductory students how Earth works. For a week each summer, I am the lead instructor working with high school teachers and students in the science strand Governor's Institute of Vermont, a residential program for highly motivated Vermont high school students. I am the author of two undergraduate textbooks.


Selected Publications

  • Bierman, P. R., Shakun, J., Portenga, E., Rood, D, and Corbett, L. B. (2018). Directly dating post-glacial Greenlandic emergence at high resolution using in situ 10Be. Quaternary Research. Published online: 12 April 2018.
  • Bierman, P. R., Shakun, J., Rood, D, Corbett, L. B. and Zimmerman, S. (2016) A persistent and dynamic East Greenland Ice Sheet over the past 7.5 million years. Nature. v. 540, p. 256–260. doi:10.1038/nature20147
  • Bierman, P. R., Davis, P. T., Corbett, L. B., Lifton, N. and Finkel, R. (2015) Cold-based, Laurentide ice covered New England’s highest summits during the Last Glacial Maximum. Geology. v. 43(12), p. 1059-1062.
  • Bierman, P. R., Coppersmith, R., Hanson, K., Neveling, J., Portenga, E. and Rood, D. (2014) A cosmogenic view of erosion, relief generation, and the age of faulting in Southern Africa. GSA Today. v. 24(9), p. 4-11.
  • Bierman, P. R. and Montgomery, D. (2013). Key Concepts in Geomorphology, 1st edition. W. H. Freeman. 544 p. ISBN-10: 1429238607

All of Paul's Publications

Paul Biierman

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Geomorphology, Isotope Geochemistry, and Landscape Change


  • Ph.D., University of Washington, 1993


  • (802) 238-6826
Office Hours:

By appointment only. Email Paul:

  1. Paul's website