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Faculty Leaders

Scott Burns

Scott Burns, '69, MS '70, has taught geology and ecology at the university level for more than 45 years, including a course on the geology of U.S. national parks that he has taught for the past 28 years. His knowledge of geology and botony is broad, his enthusiasm is contagious, and he has won many awards for excellence in teaching. His passion for mountain ecology began when he visited a small village in Switzerland in 1970 to teach a new course called alpine ecology. Since then he has become well versed on the unique natural forces that shape mountain environments as well as the plants and animals that inhabit them. Born and raised in Oregon, he is a sixth-generation Oregonian whose forebears traversed the Oregon Trail by covered wagon in 1843. He has accompanied more than 25 Travel/Study programs in the European Alps, Alaska, Chile, Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

"Traveling with Scott Burns is always special. His enthusiasm is catching!"

Peter McCreight, '65, Canadian Rockies, 2016


  • Chair of the Department of Geology at Portland State University
  • President of the faculty senate at three universities: Louisiana Tech University, the American College of Switzerland and Portland State University
  • Associate dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Portland State University, 1997-1999
  • National president, Association of Engineering Geologists, 2003-2004
Academic History:

  • BS, Chemistry, and MS, Physical Science, Stanford University
  • PhD, Geology, University of Colorado, Boulder

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