Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Chelsea Lancelle

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Pioneer Spotlight
Chelsea Lancelle
May 19, 2017

Dr. Chelsea Lancelle, a University of Wisconsin-Platteville geology lecturer, grew up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. As a child, Lancelle kept a rock collection, sparking her interest in the subject at a young age. After double majoring in geology and math at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, she received her master’s degree and Ph.D. in geoscience from UW-Madison. With nearly a full year under her belt at UW-Platteville, Lancelle helps students discover an interest in geology they otherwise may not have found.

When did you become interested in geology?

I’ve been interested in geology my whole life. Growing up, I had a rock and mineral collection. I went to rock and mineral shows with my parents, but geology wasn’t something that I thought I wanted to study because I didn’t have any classes in high school where we learned geology. I started at St. Norbert as a math major and took geology as a general education class. I decided that I liked it, and I wanted to take another, and then another. After my first year of geology classes, that’s when I decided to double major in geology and mathematics.

What do you like most about working in an environment like UW-Platteville?

I like smaller school environments that focus on the students. At larger schools, some professors aren’t as connected with their students. I like that I know all of my students’ names, and if I see them around campus, I can say hello. I like being in a smaller school environment so I have a chance to know my students better.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part, so far, is seeing students gaining interest in the subject even if it’s not their major. We don’t have a geology major on campus, but a lot of students take it either as part of a major requirement or as a general education requirement. Seeing any of those students interested in it – sometimes they’ll bring in a sample that they want me to identify or they’ll tell me about rocks they saw on a trip with their families – those types of situations are my favorite. I like getting students even just a little interested in geology so that they can carry it with them for the rest of their lives.

How would you describe your teaching style?

My teaching style is a mix of lectures and hands-on activities. Lab is very much hands-on and allows me to physically show what I’ve been talking about in lecture and I try to incorporate activities in lecture as well. I like being as approachable as possible. I don’t want students to be afraid to come to me with questions. If they have a question or they’re confused about something, I want them to feel like they can come to me and ask me about it. That’s my goal when I’m teaching – just to stay relaxed and approachable while teaching some fun material.

If you weren’t teaching, what could you see yourself doing and why?

I always wanted to teach, and I knew for quite a while that I wanted to teach at a college level. If I was not a teacher though, it would be interesting to work for a geological society, whether it’s at a state or national level. I also, at one time, considered being an actuary – using my math side. Those were the two main options that I considered pursuing.

Interview conducted by Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact


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