Yvette Bordeaux is Director of the Professional Master’s Programs in Earth and Environmental Science. A graduate of the University of Rochester, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000.
A paleontologist, Dr. Bordeaux eschews dinosaurs and other large vertebrates for the fossils of much smaller creatures who can indicate how the environment has changed over time. Her early research focused on the burrows formed by invertebrate worms in Lower Devonian outcrops of eastern New York State. These days, she studies epibionts, specifically the fossils of organisms that lived on the shells of brachiopods dating from the Middle Devonian of New York State.
While her research takes her far back in time—upwards of 400 million years ago—Dr. Bordeaux is firmly rooted in the present as a professor at Penn, where she has taught paleontology, environmental analysis, and courses on climate change. Named Director of the Professional Master’s Programs in Earth and Environmental Science in 2007, she continues to teach paleontology and leads the annual Rocky Mountain field geology and ecology course. “I’m most interested in looking at changes over time,” she says. “I tell my students, for example, that the ocean didn’t look then as it does today. Looking at fossils now you tend to see only grey specimens. I try to encourage students in my paleontology classes to imagine what a vibrant, colorful community it was at one time.”
Praise from her students and colleagues won Dr. Bordeaux a Provost’s Award for exceptional teaching in 2001. Students spoke of her lively and thought-provoking lectures and her ability to make clear connections between the concepts covered in class and the real repercussions on the environment. Her colleagues were equally enthusiastic. One commented: "Dr. Bordeaux represents all that is golden in the art and science of pedagogy."