C. Renee Sparks


A native Kansan, Renee Sparks earned her Bachelor of Science degree in geology at Kansas State University in 1992 and her Master of Science degree in geology with an emphasis in geophysics and hydrogeology in 1994. After two years as an environmental scientist with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources, she continued her graduate studies at the University of Kansas completing a PhD in isotope geochemistry, geochronology, and crustal tectonics in 2001. In 1998, she took a science instructor position with Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Missouri and continued to work on her doctoral research remotely. She accepted an appointment of assistant professor of geology in 2000 at Northwest Missouri State University where she served until 2015. Professor Sparks joined the faculty at Calvin University in 2015 teaching courses in mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, tectonics, and geologic field studies. She serves as the Director of the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum (https://calvin.edu/academics/departments-programs/geo/bruce-dice-mineralogical-museum/) on the Calvin University campus. 


Professor Sparks is a hard-rock geologist that enjoys the connections between mineralogy and tectonics using geochemistry and geophysical techniques. She usually has two or three research projects running at a time to provide opportunities for students to progress toward graduate school, internships, or full-time employment. While at Calvin University, she has developed connections at NASA and received funding through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium to address geologic questions on Earth, the Moon, and Mars. Her current research projects are focused on tectonic drivers in the asthenosphere and lithospheric mantle as well as meteorite textures and mineralogy for planetary differentiation. She has a passion for sharing the beauty and intricacy of God’s creation within the context of geology and has done so through Calvin University courses, community outreach through the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum, and speaking engagements in the community.

General aviation, travel, playing piano, and writing

Academic interests

Major and trace elemental geochemistry of minerals; tectonics and geophysical data; geochronology using isotopic studies; crustal growth

Research and scholarship

  1. Exploring the influence of latitude and equatorial bulge on planetary tectonic movement along pre-existing fracture systems
    1. Working with honor student, Simon Detmer
    2. In progress and supported by MSGC – 2020
  2. Meteorite or Meteor-Wrong: Recognizing minerals and textures that are out-of-this-world
    1. Showcased in the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum
    2. In progress and supported by MSGC – 2020
  3. Tectonics of the Southern Appalachians
    1. Developed in-person and virtual field studies for the Great Smoky Mountains, Valley and Ridge, as well as the Cumberland Plateau
    2. Published abstract and presentation at the Geological Society of America
    3. Supported by Vermeer Funding


See CV for complete listing

Blakemore, Daniel R.; Sparks, C. Renee; and Bos, Nathaniel H., 2016, Concentration of Metals Associated with the Native Copper Deposits of Northern Michigan, The Compass: Earth Science Journal of Sigma Gamma Epsilon: v. 88: no. 4, Article 1.

Available at: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/compass/vol88/iss4/1

In the news

Out of this world: Lunar sample comes to Calvin

A lunar sample will be displayed in Calvin's Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum starting November 28.

Read more



  • Course code:
  • Credits:
  • Semester:
  • Department: