Alyssa Bancroft


What are your responsibilities with the IGS?

My fundamental responsibility is to collaborate with the rest of the IGS team on mapping endeavors, and I also get to assist with a variety of other projects and activities that the IGS is involved in.  More specifically, my work seeks to integrate conodont biostratigraphy (as well as other chronostratigraphic proxies) with applied geologic mapping, stratigraphy, and paleogeographic facies studies to better understand the bedrock geology of Iowa.

What are your research/project interests?

My primary research interests involve the integration of chronostratigraphic proxies (namely conodont biostratigraphy and chemostratigraphy) to construct a framework that will allow us to better understand the cause-and-effect relationship between the physical and chemical processes and biological changes that have occurred in the ocean-atmosphere-biosphere system over Earth’s history.

How can your research in your areas of interest improve the quality of life in Iowa?

I think that it is essential that the knowledge and expertise from all fields (not just geology) are integrated so that we can continue to identify, mitigate, and adapt to the anthropogenic changes inflicted on the Earth system. It is my goal to help Iowans understand the contributions that geology has made (and continues to make) to our society and economy.

What is your academic and professional background?

My educational background includes BS degrees in biology and geology from Lake Superior State University and MS and PhD degrees in geology from The Ohio State University.  Prior to finishing my dissertation, I was a lecturer (in geology) for two years at Lake Superior State University.  After completing my dissertation, I was a postdoctoral research scholar at The University of Iowa for two years.  I then spent the next five years working at the Indiana Geological and Water Survey.  In July of 2021, I joined the team here at the Iowa Geological Survey.

At about what age and why did you decide to become a geologist/scientist?

I grew up in Mackinaw City, Michigan and always had an interest in science, namely biology, and thought that I might become a secondary education biology teacher.  However, three years into my undergraduate studies a friend working on her geology degree introduced me to the field and I began adding geology courses to my curriculum.  Geology truly is the most integrated of all the sciences, and when a professor provided me with the opportunity to get involved in conodont biostratigraphy (which integrates biology and geology) my trajectory changed quite abruptly!

What field activity is your favorite?

Honestly, any day out in the field is a good day!  Every outcrop or core has a story to tell and questions to ask.  However, I particularly enjoy opportunities that allow me to go in the field with colleagues, there is nothing more valuable than hearing others’ perspectives and exchanging ideas.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my down time I enjoy the camaraderie of my partner, our dog, and our families and friends; playing cribbage; working on puzzles; or getting lost in a good book.