Alison Olcott

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Geology
Associate Professor
Primary office:
Slawson Hall, room 270C
University of Kansas
1420 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045


Dr. Olcott's research combines organic geochemical techniques with paleontological and geological techniques, to characterize the evolution and preservation of the biosphere through time, especially in intervals of Earth’'s history where the traditional fossil record is sparse.


Ph.D., Geological Sciences, University of Southern California

B.S., Geology, University of Chicago


My teaching focuses on preparing students to find, evaluate, and apply ideas and information with an awareness of their disciplinary and global context. My teaching specialties are interdisciplinary science classes aimed at non-majors and upper-level classes poised at the intersection of chemistry, biology, and geology, with additional expertise in curriculum development and program assessment.

Teaching Interests

  • Organic geochemistry
  • Paleobiology
  • Chemical Paleontology
  • Early life
  • Precambrian
  • Biomarkers
  • Fossil preservation
  • Paleontology

Research Interests

  • Organic geochemistry
  • Paleobiology
  • Chemical Paleontology
  • Early life
  • Precambrian
  • Biomarkers
  • Fossil preservation
  • Paleontology

Selected Publications

Olcott Marshall, A. & Crawford Parker, S. (2017). Exploring Mars: A science-focused First Year Seminar for non-science majors. In , Case Studies on High-Impact Practices in First Year Seminars. National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Olcott Marshall, A. & Bitting, K. (2017). Case Study: Flipping a Paleontology Class for Non-Majors. In , The Flipped College Classroom: Conceptualized and Re-Conceptualized. Springer Books.

Marshall, C. P., Olcott Marshall, A. Aitken, J. B., Lai, B. Vogt, S. Breuer, P. Steemans, P. & Lay, P. A. (2017). Imaging of Vanadium in microfossils: A new potential biosignature. Astrobiology.

Emry, J. R., Olcott Marshall, A. & Marshall, C. P. (2016). Evaluating the Effects of Autofluorescence during Raman Hyperspectral Imaging. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Techniques.

Olcott Marshall, A. & Bitting, K. S. (2016). Teaching through Human-Driven Extinctions and Climate Change: Adding Civic Engagement to an Introductory Geology Course for Non-Majors. International Journal of Science Education and Civic Engagement.

Harris, L. V., McHough, M. Hutchinson, I. B., Ingley, R. Malherbe, C. Parnell, J. Edwards, H. M., Jehlička, J. & Olcott Marshall, A. (2015). Avoiding misidentification of bands in planetary Raman spectra. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy.

Olcott Marshall, A. & Cestari, N. A. (2015). Biomarker analysis of samples visually identified as microbial in the Eocene Green River Formation: An analog for Mars. Astrobiology.

Harris, L. Hutchinson, I. B., Marshall, C. P., Olcott Marshall, A. & Edwards, H. M. (2015). Selection of portable spectrometers for planetary exploration - A comparison of 532 nm and 785 nm Raman spectroscopy of reduced carbon in Archaean cherts. Astrobiology.

Olcott Marshall, A. & Marshall, C. P. (2015). Vibrational Spectroscopy of Fossils. Journal of Palaeontology, 58(2), 201-211.

Olcott Marshall, A. Jehlicka, J. Rouzad, J. & Marshall, C. P. (2014). Multiple generations of carbonaceous material deposited in Apex chert by basin-scale pervasive hydrothermal fluid flow. Gondwana Research, 25(1), 284-289.

Marshall, C. P., & Olcott Marshall, A. (2014). Raman spectroscopy as a screening tool for ancient life detection on Mars . Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, A, 372(2030), pii: 20140195. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2014.0195.

Glauser, A. L., Harper, C. J., Taylor, T. N., Taylor, E. L., Marshall, C. P., & Olcott Marshall, A. (2014). Reexamination of microspore contents in Pennsylvanian spores and pollen grains. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 210, 62-68.

Selected Awards & Honors

Christopher H. Haufler Award for KU Core Innovation for Geology 121
KU Provost
2016 - Present

Jan F and Mary van Sant Award of Excellence in Geology
University of Kansas Department of Geology

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