Alison Olcott Marshall is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geology. Born in upstate New York, her interest in fossils started young; every time she walked with her dad in the woods, he would pick up rocks to show her fossils. Now, instead of just looking at the fossils, Alison and her students use chemistry to explore fossils of all types, sizes, and ages, although she is most interested in figuring out how best to look for signs of the oldest life on Earth, and how to apply those lessons to the search for life on other planets. She also makes sure to take her two little girls out in the woods to pick up rocks and show them fossils.
Professor Alison Olcott Marshall is familiar with the ways that one's path doesn't always turn out how expected. Professor Olcott started off her undergraduate career pursuing history initially before finding her love of science. In her work with her students she tries to get them to observe similarities across fields by allowing them to direct their own research process. Showing students that they can follow their own passions as a scientist and giving them the opportunity to succeed as well as normalizing setbacks. She believes it is important to show them that their professors want them to succeed by helping as much as possible and promoting active learning and ownership.