Colin R. Robins
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science
Office: Keck Science Center 238
Phone: 909-607-7170
Office Hours: MON 4:00-5:30p, WED 3:00-4:00p, & THUR 9:00-10:00a
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 a 48-seat 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 24-seat 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 2017)
3. EA103 Soils & Society (Next offered in AY 2017-2018. This is an upper-division EA science and Earth science course. Everyone should learn about soils!)
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 (

I support research by science students interested in the Earth and Environmental Sciences (Soil Science and Geology), especially: geomorphology, soil genesis, mineralogy, landscape evolution, and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Field and/or laboratory project topics (proportions of Environmental Science, Geology, Chemistry, Physics, and Biology are flexible) for the 2016-2017 academic year might include:
- Experimental soil genesis
- Soil quality analyses via ICP-OES (plasma spectrometry)
- Clay minerals and geochemistry
- Tropical Soils!
- Thesis projects in other areas may be designed by students with prior coursework in Geology (e.g., EA55L KS, GEOL020PO, etc.), Soil Science (e.g., EA103KS), Ecology (e.g., BIOL 138L/139 KS, BIOL 146L KS), and/or a statistics course taken at the Claremont Colleges. Please see me with questions.
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