Geology Professor’s Expertise Allows UM to Revive Paleontology Instruction

Louis Zachos worked for many years both in the private sector and for governmental agencies

Louis Zachos

Louis Zachos’ work history is as rich and diverse as the Earth and its minerals that he teaches about and studies.

“I most enjoy the freedom to teach and pursue research in those areas of the science that interest me,” said the assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at the University of Mississippi. “I worked for many years both in the private sector and for governmental agencies where this freedom is lacking. For all intents and purposes, I am finally my own boss.”

Zachos began teaching at UM in fall 2010 as a visiting professor, and was hired the next year. He’s taught Introduction to GIS, Remote Sensing, Advanced Topics in GIS, Quantitative Methods in Geology and Geological Engineering, Historical Geology, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, and Paleontology.

“I became a geologist so I could be outside, and I take every opportunity to climb the next outcrop, collect the next fossil and study the next rock,” Zachos said. “Going back to school late in my career to earn a Ph.D. and make the shift into the academic world has been an achievement I am truly proud of. Without the support and sacrifices made by my family, I could not have accomplished this.”

Zachos earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from the University of Florida, a master’s in mechanical engineering and a doctorate in geology from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to Ole Miss, he had a post-doc at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) in Washington, D.C.

His hobbies are intertwined with his work interests.

“I used to hunt in the traditional sense, but now I find more satisfaction pursuing things that are already dead and petrified,” Zachos said. “My shotgun is rusty, but my rock hammer is bright and shiny.”

He and his wife, Susan, have two sons: George, a recent graduate of the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in meteorology; and Samuel, who works in IT at Ole Miss; and a grandson.

Zachos has garnered the respect of his colleagues in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering.

“When we saw that Dr. Zachos’ application included experience and expertise in what we were expressly looking for and in paleontology, we were blown away,” said Gregg Davidson, chair and professor of geology and geological engineering. “We hadn’t been able to include paleontology in our program in over a decade. Dr. Zachos is like two professors in one body! He has proven to be a valuable asset, a great colleague and a wonderful ‘two-for-one’ hire.”

For more information about Zachos, visit