Colin R. Robins
Associate Professor of Environmental Science
Office: Keck Science Center 238
Phone: 909-607-7170
Office Hours: Mon 345-450 & Thurs 10-11 (238); Tues 10-11(zoom)
Web Site:
Educational Background:
B.A. Macalester College (Geology & Spanish)
M.S. Oregon State University (Soil Science)
Ph.D. University of Nevada Las Vegas (Geoscience)

Courses Taught:
1. EA30L Science and the Environment (w/lab) (EA30L KS is an introduction to environmental science taught every semester by KSD EA faculty. PO students and any CMC, PZ, and SC students with lab-time conflicts should also consider EA30L PO, offered every year)
2. EA55L Physical Geography & Geomorphology (w/lab) (This is a natural science laboratory course and an introductory Earth science course; field trips are emphasized. My goal in this course is to forever change the way you view our planet.)
3. EA103(L) Soils & Society (This is an upper-division environmental science and Earth science course with an optional lab section. Everyone should learn about soils, and the ways in which we are utterly dependent upon them!)
4. PZ FYS 13 Exploring Natural Disasters (Fall 2016; First Year students only).

Research Interests:
Rocks. Dirt. Science.

Soils, sediments, and landforms are brilliantly puzzling, complex palimpsests that reflect both ancient and present-day environmental conditions. As a physical geographer, soil scientist, geologist, and environmental scientist, I study the ways in which landscape components record surface, climate, and ecosystem histories at scales ranging from the nanometer to the kilometer. My main research interests include: (1) the study of desert soils and the pursuit of new, quantitative, isotopic measures of arid soil minerals and geomorphic surface ages, (2) paleoenvironmental reconstruction from paleosols; and (3) applications of soil science and geochemistry to challenges in species conservation and/or land management.

For more about what I do, and more on what I expect of prospective research students, please click here.

Thesis Topics:
Please click here for student project opportunities.

Broadly, I support research by science students interested in the Earth and Environmental Sciences (Soil Science and Geology), especially: soil genesis, mineral geochemistry, geomorphology/landscape evolution, and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. I work with thesis students who have completed at least one semester of introductory earth science (e.g., EA55L KS, GEOL 020 PO), have demonstrated an interest in the physical components of Environmental Systems, and/or who have taken another course in relevant topics with me (EA103, EA30L, etc.).
Selected Publications List: Click to open new window.
1.   Caspi., T., Soto Villa, A.E., Hartz, L.E., Loesberg, J.A., Robins, C.R., and Meyer, W.M . (2019). Impacts of invasive annuals on soil carbon and nitrogen storage in southern California depend on the identity of the invader. Ecology and Evolution   9: 4980–4993. Abstract Article
2.   Del Vecchio, J., Lang, K.A., Robins, C.R., McGuire, C., and Rhodes, E.J . (2018). Storage and weathering of landslide debris in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains, California, USA: implications for mountain solute flux. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms   43 (13): 2724-2737. Abstract Article
3.   Caspi, T., Estrada, L., Dowling, A.V., Su, E., Leshchinskiy, M., Cavalcanti, A.R.O., Crane, E.J., Robins, C.R., Meyer, W.M. III . (2018). Carbon and nitrogen in the topsoils of Inceptisols and Mollisols under native sage scrub and non-native grasslands in southern California. Geoderma Regional   14: e00172. Abstract Article
4.   Wheeler, M. M., Dipman, M.M., Adams, T.A., Ruina, A.V., Robins, C.R., and Meyer, W.M. III . (2016). Carbon and nitrogen storage in California sage scrub and non-native grassland habitats. Journal of Arid Environments   129: 119-125. Abstract Article
5.   Robins, C.R . (2016). Soils, Science, Society, and the Environment. Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Environmental Science: Agriculture and the Environment  Oxford University Press : 41 pages. Abstract Article
6.   Robins, C.R., Deurlington, A., Buck, B.J., and Brock-Hon, A.L . (2015). Micromorphology and formation of pedogenic ooids in calcic soils and petrocalcic horizons. Geoderma   251-252: 10-23. Abstract Article
7.   Robins, C.R., Buck, B.J., and Williams, A.J . (2014). Establishing soil and surficial geologic habitat criteria for presumed gypsophiles - the example of Eriogonum corymbosum var. nilesii, Mojave Desert, U.S.A. Catena   118: 9-19. Abstract Article
8.   Robins, C.R., Buck, B.J., Spell, T.L., Soukup, D., and Steinberg, S . (2014). Testing the applicability of vacuum-encapsulated 40Ar/39Ar geochronology to pedogenic palygorskite and sepiolite. Quaternary Geochronology   20: 8-22. Abstract Article
9.   Goossens, D., Buck, B.J, Teng, Y., Robins, C.R., and Goldstein, H . (2014). Effect of sulfate and carbonate minerals on particle size distributions in arid soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal   78(3): 881-893. Abstract Article
10.   Rogers, R., Krause, D.W., Kast, S.C., Marshall, M.S., Rahantarisoa, L., Robins, C.R., and Sertich, J.J . (2013). A new, richly fossiliferous member comprised of tidal deposits in the Upper Cretaceous Maevarano Formation, northwestern Madagascar. Cretaceous Research   44: 12-29. Abstract Article
11.   Brock-Hon, A.L., Robins, C.R., and Buck, B.J . (2012). Micromorphological investigation of pedogenic barite in Mormon Mesa petrocalcic horizons, Nevada, USA: Implications for genesis. Geoderma   179-180: 1-8. Abstract Article
12.   Robins, C.R., Brock-Hon, A.L., and Buck, B.J . (2012). Conceptual mineral genesis models for calcic pendants and petrocalcic horizons, NV. Soil Science Society of America Journal   76 (5): 1887-1903. Abstract Article
13.   Robins, C.R., Buck, B.J., Williams, A.J., Morton, J.L., Howell, M.S., Yonovitz, M.L., and House, P.K . (2009). Comparison of flood hazard assessments on desert piedmonts and playas: A case study in Ivanpah Valley, Nevada. Geomorphology   103: 520–532. Abstract Article
14.   Nicholl, M.J., Baron, A.G., Robins, C.R., Boxell, J., and Lin, Y . (2008). Using synthetic data and artificial wells to teach the construction and use of water level contour maps. Journal of Geoscience Education   56 (4): 317-323. Abstract Article