Program: Earth Science
As a child, Mark Sutherland was an avid collector of rocks, minerals and fossils.
"This sparked my interest in all things geological," he said. "My high school science teacher, Ed Evans, kindled this spark into a flame. And when I encountered the emerging unifying theory of plate tectonics in college, I was hooked!"
Sutherland first taught high school science in Canandaigua, New York, for two years "before marrying the English teacher down the hall." Next they packed up their belongings and moved to Los Angeles, where he completed a master's degree program in geology at UCLA. While there, he taught undergraduate lab classes as a teaching assistant.
"When you have such a strong passion for anything, the first thing you want to do is share it with someone else," he said. "I couldn't think of a better way to share my passion for geology than to help others learn more about it and hopefully inspire others as my teachers have inspired me."
Now a professor of Earth Science at College of DuPage, where he has taught since 1990, Sutherland continues to be inspired by his students and his family. He was as proud as a dad can be when his son Greg was named Outstanding Graduate upon finishing his studies at College of DuPage in 2010.
But Sutherland also takes pride in his students who apply the principles they learned in his class to further their studies.
"When my former students earn doctoral degrees in geology from places like Brown University, Northern Illinois University and the University of Kentucky, it reminds me of the opportunity I had to make a difference in their lives," he said. "The intrinsic reward associated with this opportunity is incredible.
"My hope is that students who emerge from my classes find a world that is bigger than when they arrived. Many have not been exposed to a topography or geography much beyond their county or state boundaries. Their exposure to the range of geologic phenomena that created the planet on which we live through the use of maps, 3-D satellite imagery, samples and field excursions has often led to student comments like, 'I'll never view the world the same again!' Their success is a validation of the effort and care that we as teachers dedicate daily."