Department News and Events

Dr. Gene Fritsche Commemorative Geology Hike

On Saturday, October 12, 2013, forty-nine fans of Dr. A. Eugene Fritsche gathered for a hike and picnic in Topanga State Park to honor the memory of Gene Fritsche and celebrate his lasting influence on our lives. They included alumni, current and emeritus faculty, staff, colleagues, friends, and members of Gene’s family. Alumni and friends came from far and near to share the geology of some of Gene’s favorite formations and memories of many field trips together. The “far” travelers hailed from British Columbia, Alaska, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and northern California. Alumni spanned the four decades of Gene’s career at CSUN. Members of the Fritsche family included Gene’s wife Sue, daughter Wendy, son-in-law David, grandchildren Nico and Tasha, and sister Norma. The weather was perfect for the 8-mile-long loop trail through the Sespe and Lower Topanga Formations and the Conejo Volcanics. At the end of the trail, we gathered for cold drinks and a picnic lunch under the oaks. A number of folks shared humorous and touching stories about Gene, tributes that showed how much he was loved and admired by his students and colleagues. Click here to see more photos and the full list of participants.

Several years ago, Gene and Sue established the Gene and Sue Fritsche GeoTrek Endowment, which provides annual scholarships to geology majors, with the $47,000+ that they raised by walking the 418 miles of the four GeoTreks. The family and department welcome donations in memory of Gene. The scholarships from this fund will help all future generations of CSUN students reach their goals of graduation and successful careers as professional geoscientists.

The Gene and Sue Fritsche GeoTrek Endowment for geology scholarships Make donations payable to the CSUN Foundation and note The Gene and Sue Fritsche GeoTrek Endowment on the memo line.
Send to:     The College of Science and Mathematics
                  c/o Ms. Judith Deutsch
                  California State University Northridge
                  18111 Nordhoff Street
                  Northridge, CA 91330-8238

Gene Fritsche Commemorative Hike Invitation

Saturday, October 12, the Department of Geological Sciences at California State University Northridge will sponsor a geology hike honoring Gene Fritsche. Please join us to examine some of Gene’s favorite formations in Topanga State Park. There are different length hiking options . You can stop wherever you wish and you can rejoin the hike along this loop trail. Many members of the department and Gene’s family will be there to share memories and fellowship in celebration of the happy and adventurous life that Gene lived to the fullest.
The hike will start at 8:30 am from Topanga State Park Trippet Ranch parking lot. Please plan to arrive by 8:15 am. There is a $10 (cash) parking and day use fee unless you have a CA State Park annual permit. We will return to Trippet at 1:30 pm. The Geology Department will provide cold drinks and lunch when we return, so you only need to bring snacks and water for the trail. If you cannot come on the hike, join us for lunch!
Please RSVP to by October 4 if you are planning to come on the hike and/or for lunch.
Gene was deeply committed to the excellent training of geology students, the future of the profession he dearly loved. He did not just talk the talk, he walked the walk—literally! To provide scholarships to help students earn their degrees, Gene became a creative philanthropist. He organized and led four GeoTreks:

• 2004: LA Zoo to Point Mugu: 75 miles in 7 days
• 2006: San Gabriel Mountains Transect, 108 miles in 9 days
• 2008: Hiking the Rim of the San Fernando Valley: 135 miles in 12 days
• 2011: Ten Terrific Topical Transverse Range Traverses, 100 miles in 10 days

Over the course of these 418 miles, Gene and Sue were joined by more than 115 geology alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the department. The GeoTreks raised over $47,000 and created the Gene and Sue Fritsche GeoTrek Endowment, which provides annual scholarships to geology majors. The Department of Geological Sciences will be forever grateful to Gene for his vision and support, and students for generations will benefit from his generosity.

The Passing of Dr. Gene Fritsche

Gene Fritsche

Dr. A. Eugene Fritsche passed away on July 7, 2013. Gene joined the Department of Geological Sciences in Fall 1963, after receiving his Ph.D. from UCLA. He twice served as Department Chair, retired in Spring 2000 and was immediately granted emeritus status. Gene was a native of Los Angeles and grew up with love of the hills and complex geology that surrounded him. Although he traveled to every continent on Earth, always fascinated with the rocks and geology that he saw, the geology of southern California remained his lifelong passion. Gene was a caring teacher who made his students strive for the best, a strong mentor and role model for his research students, a leader in shaping the path of the department for decades, and a legend in the world of southern California geology. Equally important in his life were his family and the incredible adventures they shared for more than 50 years. His service to his fellow men and woman through Habitat for Humanity and other aid agencies improved the lives of many, and his kindness and humor touched their lives forever leaving happy memories. The Department will commemorate his life in the fall, most likely outdoors, near some of his favorite rocks, with an optional hike in honor of his four incredible GeoTreks. We will post details about this in early September. His loving and intrepid wife, Sue, said that Gene so enjoyed teaching geology at CSUN; and even though his life was a little shorter then we would have liked, he had a very happy and adventurous life with all his world travels and his many, many service projects. You can send memories of Gene to, and we will pass them on to Sue.

More pictures of Gene passing.htm

The Department will commemorate the life of Gene Fritsche on Saturday, October 12 by hiking the final leg of GeoTrek I, a 13-mile walk that will include Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, and end at the beach at Point Mugu. All are welcome to come on the hike and to the informal commemoration at Pt. Mugu at the end of the hike. We will have refreshments to share as we share our memories of Gene. More details about this will be posted in early September. You can re-visit GeoTrek I with Gene’s photos and commentary.

2013 GSA Awards to Current Students and Alumna Whitney Behr

Dr. Whitney Behr (CSUN Geology BS 2006) will be given the Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science Award at GSA's 125th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Denver in October 2013. After graduating from CSUN, Whitney earned her doctorate from University of Southern California, held a post-doctoral fellowship at Brown University, and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Congratulations, Whitney!

Daniel Tentori, Master’s candidate doing research with Dr. Kathie Marsaglia, was awarded a GSA Graduate Student Research Grant to conduct field work for his thesis Sand Provenance of Pleistocene Marginal Marine Sequences, Tiber Delta, Italy. Daniel spent four weeks in June measuring sections and collecting samples from late Quaternary wave-dominated Tiber delta deposits, collecting modern sands from the Tiber drainage basin, delta, and the Tiber River itself. Magnifico, Daniel!

Ernest Nunez, a new graduate student entering CSUN as a Master’s candidate in Geology in Fall 2013, was awarded a GSA/ExxonMobil Field Camp Scholars Award. This award helped offset the costs of attending the field camp of his choice. Ernie graduated this summer from CSU Fullerton. Welcome to the department, Ernie!

2013 Coast Geological Society Award Winners

At the May meeting of the Coast Geological Society, two CSUN students were awarded scholarships awarded for excellence in the Earth and Geological Sciences for 2012-2013 academic year. Ian Desjarlais was received an award in the graduate division, and Tina Zeidan in the undergraduate division. The awards are generously funded by the Coast Geological Society and the Pacific Section AAPG. Winners must be continuing in a geology program for another year and be recommended by their faculty for academic achievement in the geosciences. Congratulations, Ian and Tina!

2013 Geology Graduates


At our graduation celebration this year the Outstanding Graduate Student Award went to Josh Graham and the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award went to Ryan Witkosky. Congratulations to these recipients and to our students graduating with BS and MS degrees.

For additional graduation photos see

Geological Sciences Professor Richard Heermance Named CSUN’s Jerome Richfield Memorial Scholar

Photo of Dr. Heermance

Geological sciences professor Richard V. Heermance has been named California State University, Northridge’s Jerome Richfield Memorial Scholar for his research on the glacial moraines in the Trinity Alps in the Klamath Mountains of Northern California. Further details of Dr. Heermance's award can be found at:

Doug Yule receives the 2012 Outstanding Publication Award from the Geological Society of America's Structural Geology and Tectonics Division

Award Presentation

This award is given annually for a published work (paper, book, or map) of exceptional distinction that clearly advances the science of structural geology or tectonics. This paper was coauthored with Caltech geology professor Dr. Kerry Sieh. The image on the left was taken during the award presentation and includes (l to r): Andrew Meigs Vice-Chair, Kerry Sieh, Doug Yule, and Ron Bruhn, President of the Structural Geology and Tectonics Division of GSA. For the citation and response go to: Award.pdf

Dr. Jason Saleeby (CSUN '72 summa cum laude) wins the 2012 Distinguished Geologic Career Award from the Geological Society of America's Mineralogy, Geochemistry, Petrology, And Volcanology

Jason B. Saleeby is a Professor of Geology at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. He earned his BS in geology from CSUN, was an instructor here in 1972, and has close connections to two CSUN geology professors. He was the Ph.D. supervisor of Dr. Doug Yule and the post-doctoral advisor of Dr. Robinson Cecil. He also collaborated with Dr. George Dunne (CSUN geology emeritus professor) on Sierra Nevada research and was on Dave Liggett’s (Geology Dept. tech) MS thesis committee. Further details of Dr. Saleeby's award can be found at: Award.htm and at

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