Colin R. Robins
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science
Office: Keck Science Center 238
Phone: 909-607-7170
Office Hours: On leave Fall 2017; meetings M or F by appt. only
Web Site:
Educational Background:
Ph.D., Geoscience, University of Nevada Las Vegas.
M.S., Soil Science, Oregon State University.
B.A., Geology & Spanish, Macalester College.

A note about affiliations:
ALL faculty of the W.M. Keck Science Department are faculty at EACH of our host institutions, thus:
I am a Claremont McKenna faculty member.
I am a Pitzer College faculty member.
I am a Scripps College faculty member.

This is more of a 100-100-100% affiliation than a 33.3-33.3-33.3% split.

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. Next offered in Spring 2018)
3. EA103 Soils & Society (Next offered in Spring 2018. This is an upper-division environmental science and Earth science course. 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.

Thesis Topics:
Please visit my website for more detailed student project information (

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.
Selected Publications List: Click to open new window.
1.   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
2.   Robins, Colin . (2016). Soils, Science, Society, and the Environment. Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Environmental Science: Agriculture and the Environment  Oxford University Press : 41 pages. Abstract Article
3.   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
4.   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
5.   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
6.   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
7.   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
8.   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
9.   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
10.   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
11.   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