Professional photo of Brenda Kirkland, wearing a white blouse and maroon blazer against a blue background.
Brenda L. Kirkland: Professor, Geology

Brenda L. Kirkland

Professor, Geology

205 Hilbun Hall
Mississippi State, MS 39762

Dr. Brenda L. Kirkland is a Professor in the Geosciences Department at Mississippi State University (MSU). Her training as a carbonate petrographer at Texas A & M (MS, 1986) and Louisiana State University (PhD, 1992) focused on the study of fossil calcareous algae in petroleum reservoirs and related systems. She worked for over 10 years on questions associated with the Capitan Reef system (Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico) to identify the characteristics that define the Capitan as a reef. Driven in part by an intense dislike for pesky cacti, her research at Mississippi State University has shifted from field studies to petrographic analysis of her collection of microbial carbonates including: stromatolites from the Rita Blanca Formation, travertine from Italy, giant hams (actually oncoids) from the Laborcita Formation, leopard rock from the Holder Formation, and algal mats from the Bahamas. She has also worked for over 15 years on nanometer-meter scale features found in rocks, shells, and humans. She began that work with Drs. R.L. Folk and F.L. Lynch and is currently carrying on with laboratory experiments designed to facilitate interpretation of the many nanometer-scale features found in carbonate rocks. With each of these studies, unraveling the interaction between microbes, organic molecules, and carbonate precipitation has become more intriguing and compelling.  Other interests include research on enhanced oil recovery and carbon sequestration in Mississippi, which she is currently pursuing through the Energy Institute at Mississippi State University. She is also involved in the Partnership for Applied Geospatial Education and Navigational Training (PAGENT), a program seeking to develop a geospatial training program for autistic adults.  Her long-standing interest in enhancing diversity in the geosciences was honored by the Mississippi State University Faculty Diversity Award. 


  • Ph.D., Louisiana State University, Department of Geology and Geophysics, 1986-1991
  • Dissertation: Distinctions between Reefs and Bioherms based on Studies of Fossil Algae:   Mizzia, Permian Capitan reef complex (Guadalupe Mountains, Texas and New Mexico) and Eugonophyllum, Pennsylvanian Holder Formation (Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico)
  • M.S., Texas A&M University, Department Geology and Geophysics, 1984-1986
  • Thesis: Carbonate Depositional Environments and Facies of the Shelf Margin and Outer Shelf, Lower Cretaceous Sligo Formation, South Texas
  • Fulbright and Federation of German American Clubs Exchange Student, Ludwig-Maximillans-Universität (Munich, Germany) 1982-1983
  • B.S., The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geological Sciences, 1978-1982
  • B.A., The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Germanic Languages, 1977-1981


  • Faculty Supervisor, Imperial Barrel Award Competition, 2014, 2015
  • Associate Professor, Mississippi State University, 2010-Present
  • Assistant Professor, Mississippi State University, 2004-2010
  • Consultant, Petrobras
  • Consultant, National Geographic
  • Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin, 1992-2000 (DuPont Young Professor, 1994-1998)
  • Summer Geologist, Mobil Exploration and Producing, U.S., New Orleans, Summer 1987
  • Summer Geologist, Mobil Exploration and Producing Services, Inc., Dallas, Summer 1985, 1984
  • Student Assistant, Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, 1983

Research Interests

  • Geomicrobiology, Carbon Sequestration, Carbonate Petrography, Geoscience Education, Paleophycology

Teaching Areas

  • GR 8913 Philosophy and Ethics in Geoscience Research
  • GG 4503 Geomorphology
  • GG 4333 Geowriting
  • HON 3163 Honors Seminar:  Food Security
  • GG 3133 Introduction to Environmental Science
  • GG 1113 Introduction to Earth Science I
  • GG 1123 Introduction to Earth Science II
  • GG 4304 Sedimentology I
  • GG 4133 Structural Geology
  • GG 8990 Special Topic in Geology: Carbonate Petrology
  • GG 8990 Special Topic in Geology Imperial Barrel Competition Course

Honors/Professional Activities

  • 2015 Mississippi State University Faculty Diversity Award
  • 2003 Sigma Xi
  • 1998 Knebel Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Texas at Austin
  • 1997 Houston Oil and Minerals Corporation Faculty Excellence Award, University of Texas at Austin
  • 1985 Sigma Gamma Epsilon, Honor Society for the Geosciences
  • 1977 Delta Phi Alpha, National German Honor Society

Graduate Students

  • Maurice Testa
  • Joseph Mitchell
  • Keith Tischler
  • Natalie Samai

Brenda L. Kirkland's C.V.

A copy of Brenda L. Kirkland's C.V. is available to download.

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