Tambra Eifert: She Rocks

Photo for Fall: Tambra Eifert poses in front of the scenic view her classroom overlooks. 

Tambra Eifert is Washburn’s primary lecturer of geology. Her interest in rocks and fossils started early. As a child, whenever she travelled with her parents, she would make her father stop the car so that she could pick up rocks and minerals to her already-voluminous collection. Her father would request her to stop after a while.

“You could see the car tipped just a little to one side because of the weight of the rocks,” Eifert said. “My mom tried to dump some of my rocks since my collection had gotten so large. I got so upset. I later went and picked back them up.”

Some rocks from her childhood have even made their way to her classroom, a testament to her love for rocks and the attachment she has to them. According to Eifert, what really got her interested in the subject was the fascinating explanations of her grandfather about geology-related phenomena, such as the existence of sea-creature fossils on land. “My grandfather was very much my mentor,” Eifert said.

She came to Washburn in August of 2009 after completing her PhD in May of 2009, teaching in Missouri University of Science and Technology. “Everything fell into place,” she said. “I had applied for a job in Iowa, but Washburn replied to me first. I like the smaller setting here because I get to interact with students on a much more personal level.” She has always liked teaching, too. As a child, she would get her cats and dogs in a row just to teach them.

And her attitude concerning teaching reflects her love for teaching and for seeing her students foster an interest in science. “Many students come to college having had a bad high-school science experience. I want them to come to class and do well. I want them to engage in class. I want my students to develop confidence in their abilities,” she said. She gives students opportunities to learn and grow through self-tests and review sheets.

“I am not one for busy work,” she said. She would rather have them learn and work in class than burden them with homework. She focuses a lot on lab and fieldwork.

On her wish list is the promotion of environmental geology. She believes that people, students especially, have to be concerned about the environment and the geological forces that influence environmental changes, as the environment is our future. She would definitely like to teach environmental geology at Washburn.

Volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics and more all go into understanding the earth. And that, according to Eifert is what geology is about. That is what students will get out of her classes.