R. Mark Leckie

Chief Undergraduate Advisor for Geology & Earth Systems
252 Morrill 4 South
(413) 545-1948
PhD 1984 University of Colorado
Research Interests: 


Mark Leckie's research centers on questions of Earth system history and paleoceanography, with a particular emphasis on biosphere response to changes in the ocean-climate system through time. He studies planktic and benthic foraminifera of Cretaceous and Cenozoic age. His research has included modern and ancient marginal marine depositional environments, late Paleogene-early Neogene neritic glacial marine deposits of the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, Late Cretaceous epicontinental sea depositional systems of the U.S. Western Interior Sea, and a variety of low latitude deep sea settings of Jurassic, Cretaceous and Cenozoic age. Professor Leckie has sailed with 6 legs of scientific ocean drilling (Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 79, and Ocean Drilling Program Legs 101, 130, 165, 198, 210), as well as 2 Integrated Ocean Drilling Program expeditions associated with the 'School of Rock' education and outreach (IODP 312T) and the readiness assessment cruise of the rebuilt and refurbished JOIDES Resolution drill ship (IODP 320T). He has also spent numerous summers conducting fieldwork in the western United States with students and colleagues. Micropaleontological studies by his students include taxonomy, biostratigraphy, lithostratigraphy, and population analyses. In addition, isotope paleoecology of ancient planktic foraminifera and time-series isotopic analyses of multi-species planktic and benthic foraminifera are important components of their deep-sea research as independent and complementary proxies of upper water column hydrography and productivity. See Foraminifera in Paleoenvironmental and Paleoceanographic Research


Current research projects focus on the following: 1) mid-Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Events and plankton community evolution, 2) Late Cretaceous paleoceanography and sequence stratigraphy of the Western Interior Sea, 3) Maastrichtian-Eocene paleoceanography of the tropical Pacific, 4) Oligocene-Miocene boundary and the Mi-1 event, and 5) Miocene sea level, constriction of the Indonesian Seaway, and paleoceanography of the western tropical Pacific. 


Professor Leckie and his students have also been actively involved with projects to standardize planktic foram taxonomy and create online taxonomic atlases and databases as part of the Mesozoic Planktic Foram Working Group and the Oligocene Planktic Foram Working Group. These and other planktic foram atlases are hosted on the CHRONOS website.   

Educational Research and Pedagogy

Professor Leckie is very active in projects related to educational research and pedagogy, including efforts to bring innovative student-active learning techniques into large enrollment introductory science courses at UMass with colleague Richard Yuretich. They wrote a book for the UMass GeoSci 103-Introductory Oceanography course: Investigating the Ocean, Illustrated Concepts and Classroom Inquiry (Leckie and Yuretich, 2011; McGraw-Hill, ISBN: 9780078041525).  He co-led the scientific instruction of the JOI/IODP (now Ocean Leadership) School of Rock expedition in 2005 aboard the JOIDES Resolution drill ship for Earth science teachers and informal educators. Since 2006, he has taught or co-taught numerous workshops about teaching with authentic scientific ocean drilling data for both educators and students, including shore-based School of Rock programs and graduate teaching at the international Urbino (Italy) Summer School for Paleoclimatology.


Leckie teamed up with Kristen St. John (James Madison University), Megan Jones (North Hennepin Community College), Kate Pound (St. Cloud State University), and Larry Krissek (Ohio State University) on an NSF Education (CCLI) grant to develop teaching materials focused on climate change and Earth history using ocean drilling data in introductory geoscience courses. A SERC site on our Marine Sediments exercise is a nice gateway to the materials and has the necessary links to the open access materials: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/intro/activities/29154.html. The team has written a unique student-active learning book based on authentic data from the published literature: Reconstructing Earth's Climate History: Inquiry-Based Exercises for Lab and Class (2012, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN: 978-1-1182-3294-1, paperback, 485 pages).  These materials are for faculty teaching undergraduate introductory and upper division geoscience courses in climate change, oceanography, historical geology, or Earth science in which data and content on climate change, geologic time, age determination, and Earth history are important. Learning materials are anchored in fundamental practices and discoveries of scientific ocean drilling research programs (IODP, legacy DSDP and ODP, and ANDRILL), and infuse essential scientific observational, analytical, and synthesis skills, and critical thinking into inquiry-based classroom exercises for group work in both small and large classes. The direct link to open access chapters at the Wiley-Blackwell site: http://www.wiley.com/legacy/wileychi/stjohn/sample_chapters.html.

Contact us

Department of Geosciences
627 North Pleasant Street
233 Morrill Science Center
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-9297

Phone: (413) 545-2286
Fax: (413) 545-1200