Michael S Zavada

Professor and Chair
Department of Geosciences
Geology Program
Geosciences Room 100

Geology Program

Department of Geosciences

Dr. Zavada received his B.S. in Ecology and an M.S. degree in Paleontology from Arizona State University, Tempe. He received a B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut, Storrs. He spent one year as a Fulbright Scholar in Skopje, Macedonia at the Geologic Institute, and the Center of Foreign Languages. He did post-doctoral work with David Dilcher at Indiana University, Bloomington, and Thomas Taylor at Ohio State University, Columbus (both NAS members). He has served on the faculties of The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, The University of Louisiana-Lafayette, was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biology at Providence College, Rhode Island, and East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. He served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, and as Dean of The College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Texas Permian Basin and currently serves as Chair of Geosciences at UT Permian Basin. His field research has taken him throughout North America, South America, Africa, including Madagascar and Mongolia. He has received over $9.5 million in grants and solicited funds, including grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, NASA, American Philosophical Society, The University of Texas System, and National Geographic Society. 

Dr. Zavada's primary research interest is elucidating the origin of flowering plants (angiosperms). Dr. Zavada approach's the problem from a paleobotanical / palynological perspective. Pollen has a number of characteristics fro tracking the time, place, and early diversification of a variety of taxonomic groups. The primary purpose of these studies is to track evolutionary innovations that may be related to the origin of angiosperms and understand how environmental factors may have played a role in the patterns of angiosperm evolution and the development of angiosperm floras through time. He is also interested in elucidating the functional significance of pollen characters. This may provide insight into the selective pressures of evolution in various plant groups of the Mesozoic. This area of research has been more empirical, and his work interfaces with the physical sciences (engineering and geosciences), pollination and reproductive biology, plant physiology, and development. An interdisciplinary approach to this problem will be valuable for understanding the origin and early diversification of angiosperms'. 

Dr. Zavada also has interests in floristic changes that may be due to climate change and geological processes in areas of high species diversity, e.g., the fynbos of South Africa, and the flora of Madagascar. 

Dr. Zavada has ongoing interest in paleoethnobotany, in paleo- and plant ecology, lichenology particularly of saxicolous lichen species (lichen growing on rocks) and how they affect the geochemistry of the substrate and promote soil formation. He also has interest in stratigraphy, environmental reconstruction, archeological pollen analysis, and aerobiology. 

Recent Teaching 


General Biology I & II 

Physical and Historical Geology 

Electron Microscopy 

Environmental Literature 

Environmental Science 








Dr. Zavada's CV 

Last Updated: 07/16/2020