Dr. Ellen A. Cowan

Dr. Cowan joined the Appalachian faculty in 1988. She teaches a variety of introductory and advanced classes, including Introduction to Physical Geology, Oceanography, Geomorphology, and Geoarchaeology, but does research in glacial-marine sedimentology and in sediment transport of coal ash in the Clinch and Emory Rivers from the TVA Kingston ash spill.  She spends her summers documenting modern glacial sedimentation associated with tidewater glaciers in the fjords of southeastern Alaska. During her last three cruises, she included three students (each year) in various aspects of her research projects. Dr. Cowan collaborates with a number of other workers, including some from the U.S. Geological Survey and Northern Illinois University. Dr. Cowan is a member of Appalachian's College of Arts and Sciences Academy of Outstanding Teachers, won the 1999 Don Sink Outstanding Scholar Award, won the 2018 Undergraduate Research Mentorship Excellence Award, and was named a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2018.


  • B.A. Albion College
  • M.S. Northern Illinois University
  • Ph.D. Northern Illinois University

Courses Taught

  • GLY 1101 - Introduction to Physical Geology
  • GLY 1105 - Oceanography
  • GLY 3333 - Geomorphology
  • GLY 3680 - Geoarchaeology
Title: Professor: Sedimentary record of climate change, Geoarchaeology, Geomorphology
Department: Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-2260