Solid earth

Dec 2020

I took this class my first semester at Barnard, which was in a virtual setting due to covid-19. Honestly, my professors were great. We began the semester with 2 discussion sections a week, but those were reduced to only one per week because the professors were very conscientious of their students' mental health. The lectures were recorded and had to be watched outside of class, but that was still manageable. Both Johnny and Maya are incredibly knowledgeable, and I'm proud to say this class made me a rock nerd! We had one lab per week, which usually took about 2-3 hours, and we were able to pick our lab groups. The labs were manageable and interesting, and our graduate TAs (Chris and Michelle) were the best! Overall, this class was probably my favorite of all the ones I took this semester, and I would recommend it to anyone, science major or not.

Apr 2019

I HATE THIS CLASS Do not TAKE IT unless your some kind of rock nerd (trust me, don't think you can just be a convert) it is MIND NUMBING the amount of homework and lab you can be assigned seriously this class is like a cult: you either LOVE it or you hate it and it will ruin your gpa and your semester

Jan 2005

Class is more work than expected, expect the same from climate and life. Labs havent been edited in about 10 years or mistakes and unclarity still exist. Bill Menke has a weird system of grading based on a list of requirements he deems fit. But, he doesn't tell you what he wants. Doesn't really answer questions directly, would stray from lectures at times...very strange man. Nicknamed "Wild Bill".

Jan 2005

Solid Earth should not be taken as a class for the science requirement if you are not a major. In addition to the 3 hour lecture, there are weekly labs from 4-7pm every wednesday. Lab writeups take forever to do because we mostly are stuck doing things we dont know how to, ie: trying to draw a cross section without anyone telling us that we need to find the apparent dip instead of using the dip angle given. Even as a major, the class is frustrating. you don't see much of the teachers, except Bill Ryan shows up for the labs, unlike Bill Menke. It's mostly up to the TAs that you have. Bill Ryan's lessons were always well organized, and every wed we would do a case study on what we learned the previous monday. For instance, we learned about the Yucca Mountain project acter learning about nuclear energy. Expect more encouragement from him than Bill Menke. Class nicknamed the pair Mild Bill and Wild Bill.

Jan 2005

It's pretty hard to sum up Bill Menke in a short review. The man obviously knows his stuff, but his lack of organization would never let that on. His lectures are so full of information (and lots of it completely extraneous) that I found the online lecture notes to be better than the notes I took during his lectures. What's good is that he does know basically everything about most of the topics that he teaches (first half of the Solid Earth course), but often he's not receptive to questions and just wants to keep on doing his own thing all the time. It's very hard to talk to Menke outside of class - he doesn't have office hours, won't respond to email, and has the greatest ability to suddenly disappear mid-way through class or before a lab, never to return. If you do get to corner him, however, he is only moderately helpful. We're left to do the problem sets and labs on our own, which sometimes is OK but other times is ridiculously hard. Menke's labs are the worst thing I've ever had to do in my entire scholastic career, especially because he's never there to help us out. I've found that I've learned a whole lot in Solid Earth, but that I retained Bill Ryan's lectures easier than I did Menke's lectures. Menke isn't a bad prof by any stretch of the imagination (I just think he's spent way too much time looking at rocks), but you do have to work insanely hard to do well in his class.

Jan 2005

Bill Ryan was Solid Earth's saving grace. Just when you couldn't take any more of Bill Menke's rambling, unorganized lectures about sedimentation, out comes Bill Ryan with wonderfully organized Power Point lectures and genuinely interesting topics to discuss. The second half of Solid Earth is completely different from the first half, and I think that the second half (Ryan's half) is the better part. All his lectures are very engaging, and he'll always stop to answer questions. He's very available to students outside of class, and, unlike Menke, Ryan will stay for the labs and actually help out. During one lab he patiently sat with me and a few other people until we figured it out - and that's something I just can't see Menke doing. Bill Ryan is a very nice guy and a great prof. Yes, he helped come up with the completely evil labs and problem sets that was the bane of my existence during this semester. But because Ryan was there to help us out on everything, the second half of the course wasn't as terrible as the first half, and after the course ended I find I can still recall many of Ryan's main lecture points - something I can't do with Menke's lectures. Overall, I'd highly reccommend Bill Ryan for any course.

Jan 2005

Bill Ryan is a nice guy. He's been to the bottom of the ocean in the Alvin submarine that they used to look at the titanic. But this class is terrible.

Jan 2005

If you are reading this and have any power over the earth and environmental science department (perhaps you're even professor Menke!) please god change this course. Its horrible. In no way does the work done correspond to the amount a student might learn. In no way is the amount of time required worth the payoff. That's a shame, because its a fascinating subject and the professors and TA's are competent and intelligent, but the course obviously hasn't been improved for decades (the syllabus my semester was never even in sync with the actual dates we had class.) If you're a student, complain until they change things! If you're "them", put the student body out of its misery and fix this course.

Jan 2005

Okay, he's a weirdo. But he's not THAT bad, you guys. Solid Earth was more complex than Climate, in my opinion, but only partially because of the profs. In fact, I started out as someone who frankly HATES geology and everything having to do with it... but by the end, I found myself rather awed by the age and complexity of stuff that just looks like rock to me. Now, the inescapably awful part of the class is the labs, which I suppose I can blame on the professors but because Menke was never there, I feel like I can't even pass the blame off on him. The TAs were only rarely helpful and often biting in their responses, as if every question you asked was on that should automatically become clear to you. In addition, before the final, I'd received back only FOUR of the labs I'd done the whole semester... so, talk about unable to figure out what my grade might be. Menke's a sweet guy, at heart, and his coprof, Bill Ryan, is the geologically brilliant grandfather I never had.

Dec 2004

If it wasn't for Kori, I never would have survived Solid Earth. She can't help that the labs are really complicated and often take hours and hours of time to complete, but since she's got more patience than I thought was possible she'll answer every single one of your questions until you understand what you're supposed to do. What's so great is that she doesn't just feed you answers, but instead helps you along by providing helpful hints so ultimately you come up with the answer. Sometimes this seems annoying, but since you came up with the idea yourself you tend to remember it easier. Many a time Kori helped me figure out what I was supposed to do, and always encouraged me even when I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. She deserves TA of the Year Award or something for her infinite patience and sense of humor that keeps you laughing when you've been working for many hours and the lab no longer makes sense.

Jan 2004

Bill Ryan is one of the most wonderful professors ever. He's very sweet, attentive, responsive, and he really gets to know his class. He spends as much individual time with a student as is necessary, and he helps out on all the tricky parts. Helped me do an entire lab - without him, it would've been hopeless. BE WARNED: this class is taught with Bill Menke. Menke is quite the opposite of Ryan. He makes up the problem sets of the first half of class, which are horrible horrible horrible. You never know what to do with them and emailing him didn't help. I asked how I can improve, his response: anticipate what i might be grading you on and do it. Roger that, menke. This class is indeed quite time-consuming. We were fortunate to have a great TA - Janet Baran - who combined with Ryan made this class very interesting and informative. Chilled atmosphere, a bit like what a grad class might feel like. Don't let Menke throw you off - it gets much much better towards the end.

Dec 2003

Ryan is a legend and a deserving one. He is truly brilliant and an interested and animated teacher. He can appear aloof and dated at times, but he is truly an incredible professor who genuinely wants his students to understand his material, the implications, and the applications. Expect to work in this class, but expect to enjoy it.

Dec 2003

Menke does appear spacey at times, but his lectures are cohesive and well-organized. Only take the class if you know that you will like the material, but with that said, the class is interesting and enjoyable. Menke is much less aloof than he appears. He IS interested in your questions and wants to help you understand

Jun 2003

run from thsi class and avoid it if you can. horrible, a ton of work, professors who have no idea what they are talking about, and stupid books that have no color and teach you nothing. labs are long and tedious, and as smart are yout hink you are, you won't do well.

Jun 2002

This is by far the worst class for the major. While it is easier than Climate, the profs suck, the labs seriously suck, and the material is completely unorganized and boring (though some may find erosion rates of million year old rocks fascinating, I think most would agree IT SUCKS.)The policy stuff at the end is more interesting than the rest, but Ryan is pretty annoying and mellowdramatic. Don't expect the profs to give a shit or explain anything well. Worst Part: A horrible all day field trip (leaves 7 am sunday) to look at rocks covered in poison ivy on the side of a highway in Rockland County.