David Ullman

Associate Professor of Geoscience
Affiliated Faculty, Burke Center

David Ullman headshot
Office:Center for Science and the Environment 162
Email:Send a message...


Earned and Honorary Degrees

PhD University of Wisconsin
MS University of Wisconsin
BA Washington University in St. Louis

Why Northland?

I first visited Northland College when I was two years old. Ever since then, I have come to have a great respect and admiration for Northland’s reputation in the environmental liberal arts. I appreciate the constant inspiration I receive from the both the faculty AND the students, who are all focused on finding their own unique ways to contribute to and preserve this oblate spheroid on which we reside.


I teach courses in physical geology, glacial geology, geomorphology, and paleoclimatology. These courses are particularly focused on the processes by which the Earth surface takes its form.


Broadly speaking, my research interests fall along the intersection between climate and landscape. Variations in the Earth’s orbit and resulting fluctuations in greenhouse gases have led to profound changes in temperature and precipitation that have had large impacts on the earth’s surface. Specifically, my research is focused on refining the chronology of Laurentide Ice Sheet retreat from the Last Glacial Maximum until present and the mechanisms that led to such ice decline. Much of this work pertains to the extensive glacial record of the upper Midwest and Eastern Canada, rich with geomorphological clues of a drastically different recent past. What are now the rolling hills and scattered lakes of a gentle Midwestern landscape were once covered in a blanket of flowing and grinding ice, sculpting the underlying terrain. I am also particularly interested in the climate that allowed for the development of these massive ice sheets, as well as what this past can tell us about our present and future climate.

Student Involvement

As a child, I was raised on the National Wildlife Federation’s publications of Ranger Rick and Your Big Backyard, which instilled the notion that natural science is all around us. Certainly there were vivid pictures of playful polar bears in Svalbard or lively lemurs of Madagascar, but the real benefit of these publications was their focus on finding the wonders of natural science right out your back door.

I hope to bring this focus of local-based learning to my teaching whenever possible. The unique geology of the Upper Midwest provides ample opportunity to experience some of the great mysteries of the natural world first hand.


I enjoy a variety of silent sports, including trail running, hiking, canoeing, nordic skiing, and concentrating really hard.