Cinzia Cervato

Cinzia Cervato
Morrill Professor of Geological & Atmospheric Sciences
Faculty Fellow for Early Career Faculty, Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost
Earth Systems Science Education, Geoarchaeology, Biostratigraphy, Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Data Management

224 Science I/3024 Morrill
Dept. of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
Phone: (515) 294-7583

M.S. (Dr. Geology, Summa Cum Laude) University of Padua, Italy, 1984
Ph.D. (Dr. Sc. Nat. with Distinction) in Geology, ETH – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 1990
P.D. (Privatdozent) in Stratigraphy, ETH – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 1999

Research Interests 
My research interests lie in Earth Systems Science education, data management, geoarcheology, the evolution of marine plankton, stable isotope geochemistry, geochronology, biostratigraphy and carbonate sedimentology. My Earth Systems Science education research focuses on learning and on the application of modern multimedia technology to enhance learning in large introductory classes. My primary goal is to investigate better means by which to educate students to become familiar with science and its fundamental role in our society. I have worked on the implementation and development of virtual reality and web-based learning activities with funding from the National Science Foundation.

I have applied my interest in computers, logic and organization to the design of relational databases for the storage, retrieval and correlation of large amount of data. The two main databases that I worked on are Neptune and NORGES. Between 2003 and 2008 I served as the Executive Director of the multi-institutional research project CHRONOS (, funded by the National Science Foundation.

I have worked in the Alps, Himalayas, Philippines, and with deep-sea cores from most oceans. I am interested in how environmental changes have affected the evolution of organisms and in the interaction of humans with the environment in past and present times. I have worked on the reconstruction of climate patterns in the Mediterranean at the time when humans first adopted sedentary farming practices (around 11,000 years ago). My collaborators for this project are Dr. Ofer Bar-Yosef (Harvard University and Dr. William B.F. Ryan (Columbia University).

During my brief career in the oil industry, I worked in Norway on hydrocarbon reservoirs in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea as well as carbonate reservoirs in Libya and Iran.


Teaching Program
Geology 100
The Earth
Two sections, fall semester. What is the earth made of, and how does it work? Emphasis on observations and hypotheses used by geologists to determine the earth’s structure and to understand how geologic features change with time. Notes and web-based assignments are available on the course home page on Blackboard, accessible only to students enrolled in the class.

Geology 106(crosslisted as Astronomy 106)
Earth and Space Science for Elementary Education Majors
This course is an introduction to Earth and space science designed for pre-service elementary education teachers. The goal of the course is to provide students with a solid foundation of the Earth and space science through investigations and inquiry. Through this course, students will develop the content knowledge that is required for a teaching accreditation in Iowa as well as a model of inquiry-based learning that they can adopt in their own classrooms. Major topics include Earth materials, plate tectonics, geologic hazards, water cycle, weather and climate, and the solar system.

Meteorology 112 (also listed as Geology 112)
Orientation course for the Earth, Wind and Fire Learning Community.
This fall semester course provides an introduction to Iowa State University and our program for students enrolled in the department’s learning community. Activities include academic and social activities, talks and presentations on academic success, resume writing, and study abroad as well as research talks by faculty members.
Recent Selected Refereed Publications

Moss, E. and Cervato, C. (2016). Quantifying the level of inquiry in a reformed introductory geology lab. Journal of Geoscience Education, 64, 125-137.
Reichert, C., Cervato, C., Niederhauser, D., and Larsen, M. (2015). Understanding atmospheric carbon budgets: teaching students conservation of mass. Journal of Geoscience Education, 63, 222-232.
Cervato, C. and Flory, D. (2015). Earth Wind & Fire: a learning community approach to build ties between degree programs in a geoscience department. Journal of Geoscience Education, 63, 41-46.
Cervato, C., Gallus, W., Slade, M., Kawaler, S., Marengo, M., Woo, K., Krumhart, B., Flory, D., Clough, M., Campbell, A., Moss, E., and Acerbo, M. (2015). It takes a village to make a scientist: Reflections of a Faculty Learning Community Charged with Expanding Science Literacy and Opportunity. Journal of College Science Teaching, 44 (3), 28-35.
Cervato, C. & Bratsch-Prince, D. (2014). Maximizing Institutional Investment in Early Career Faculty: a Mentoring Model from ISU. In Dominguez, N. & Gandert, Y. (Eds.). 7th Annual Mentoring Conference Proceedings: Impact & Effectiveness of Developmental Relationships. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico, 920-922.
Reichert, C., Cervato, C., Larsen, M., and Niederhauser, D. (2014). Students’ misconceptions of atmospheric carbon budgets: Undergraduate students’ perceptions of mass balance. Journal of Geoscience Education, 62, 460-468.
Kerton, C. and Cervato, C. (2014). Assessment in online learning: It’s a matter of time. Journal of College Science Teaching, 43 (4), 20-25.
Suess, E.J., Cervato, C., Gallus, W., and Hobbs, J. (2013). Weather Forecasting as a Learning Tool in a Large Service Course: Does Practice Make Perfect? Weather and Forecasting, 28 (3), 762-771.
Cervato, C., Kerton, C., Hassall, L., Peer, A., and Schmidt, A. (2013). The Big Crunch: a hybrid solution to earth & Space science instruction for elementary education majors. Journal of Geoscience Education, 61, 173-186.
Cervato, C., and Frodeman, R. (2012). The significance of geologic time: cultural, educational, and economic frameworks. In: Earth and Mind II, GSA Special Paper 486, Kastens, K. and C. Manduca, eds., 19-27.
Parham, T., Cervato, C., Gallus, W., Larsen, M., Hobbs, J., and Greenbowe, T. (2011). Are movies and popular media driving students’ poor understanding of volcanic processes? Journal of College Science Teaching, 41(1), 14-19.
Cervato, C. (2011). Killer waves on the airwaves: new media, traditional media, and students’ conceptualization of tsunamis. GSA Today, 21 (11), 36-38.
Sadler, P. and Cervato, C. (2011). Data and Tools for Geologic Timelines and Timescales. In: Keller, G.R. and Baru, C. (Eds.) ‘Geoinformatics’, Cambridge University Press, 145-165.
Parham, T., Cervato, C., Gallus, W., Larsen, M., Stelling, P., Hobbs, J., Greenbowe, T., *Gupta, T., Knox, J., Gill, T. (2010). The InVEST Volcanic Concept Survey: Exploring Student Understanding about Volcanoes. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 58, 213-223.
Brooks, B. and Cervato, C. (2010). Habitat and tectonic controls of marine biogeography. Palaeontologia Electronica, 13/3. abstract
Kastens, K., Manduca, C., Cervato, C., Frodeman, R., Goodwin, C., Liben, L., Mogk, D., Spangler, T., Stillings, N., and Titus, S. (2009). How Geoscientists think and learn. EOS, 90 (31), 265-266.
Rudd, J., Wang, V.Z., Cervato, C., and Ridky, R. (2009). Calibrated Peer Review for the geosciences. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 57, 328-334.
Cervato, C., Gallus, W., Boysen, P., and Larsen, M. (2009). Today’s forecast: higher thinking with a chance of conceptual growth. EOS, 90 (20), 175-176.
Fils, D., Cervato, C., and Diver, P. (2009). CHRONOS Architecture: Experiences with an Open Source Services Oriented Architecture for Geoinformatics. Computers & Geosciences, 35, 774-782 .
Cervato, C., Ridky, R., and Jach, J. (2009). News media databases for content selection and relevance in introductory geoscience courses. Journal of College Science Teaching, 38(7), 34-37.
Cervato, C., Rudd, J. and Wang, V.Z. (2007). Diagnostic testing of Introductory Geology students. Journal of Geoscience Education, 55 (5), 357-363.
Gallus, W.A., Cervato, C., Cruz-Neira, C., and Faidley, G. (2006). A virtual tornadic thunderstorm enabling students to construct knowledge about storm dynamics through data collection and analysis. Advances in Geosciences, 8, 27-32.

Graduate Students
Joan Jach (MS Geology and Education: 2004)
Bjorn G. Brooks (PhD Geology: 2009)
Joshua Reed (MS, Human Computer Interaction: 2007)
Thomas Parham (MS, Geology: 2009; PhD candidate, Geology)
Collin Reichert (MS, Geology: 2011)
Elizabeth Boal (MS, Geology: 2012)