Assistant Dean/Professor, Paleontology, Dr. Peter Harries: A Day in the GeoLife series

NAME:  Peter Harries

CURRENT TITLE:  Professor and Assistant Dean, Office of Graduate Studies, University of South Florida, United States

AREA OF EXPERTISE:  Invertebrate Paleontology, Stratigraphy, Field Studies


EDUCATION: BS in Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, 1984; PhD in Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1993


What’s your job like?

My job consists of two components: being a professor and serving in the administration. The big difference between the two is their scope. The first is focused pretty immediately on my academic area of expertise: paleontology. Within that scope, I teach paleontology classes and also advise a number of research projects with both undergraduates and graduates. My administrative job involves a much broader perspective on graduate education at the University of South Florida.

What’s a typical day like?

I don’t think I have a typical day, as I’m constantly migrating between the demands of the two pieces of my job.

What’s fun?

Regardless of what job I’m doing, what I find fun is fundamentally problem solving, be those problems related to my research interests or whether they involve trying to augment graduate education so things work more effectively.

What’s challenging?

The biggest challenge in both jobs relates to resources either to do the research I’d like to carry out or to develop a greater level of support to augment the opportunities and funding available to graduate students.

What’s your advice to students?

My main advice is to study and aim to do what really interests you. Simply going after a job that may pay well, but doesn’t involve things that really challenge and inspire you, will lead to boredom and probably a lack of overall happiness. So, take the time to really figure out what you want to do, why you want to do it, and what you need to do to reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Then, really devote the time and energy that’s needed for you to be successful, and above all, maintain a level of curiosity for the world around you.


  1. Lee M. Cohen

    Dr. Harries – I received my undergrad in Geology in 1983 from USF. I am currently employed by CIRES at CU Boulder. I have been working for NOAA for the past 30 years in one capacity or another. I spent my first 12 years working on NOAA Research Ships, doing anything from bathymetric surveys, hydrothermal vent studies, ice gouge studies or marine mammal studies. I wish you well and welcome to the USF Family!!

    Lee Cohen
    USF – Class of 83

  2. Peter Harries

    I know or knew a bunch of the CIRES people, especially Lang Farmer. I’ve actually been at USF since 1992, so been a ‘family member’ for quite a while!


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