Skip navigation
Page Description

The following page is a blank template with a header that contains a quicklinks jump menu and the search UHD function. Page sections are identified with headers. The footer contains all required links, contact and emergency information.

Department of Natural Sciences

Faculty Profile


Dr Penny Morris-Smith

Dr. Penny Morris-Smith, Professor


Office: 818-N
Phone: 713-226-8178





Educational History

PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 1975.

MA, San Francisco State University, 1972.

BA, California State University, Los Angeles,1964.


2008-2011. NSF Geodiversity OEDG Increasing Geoscience Student Participation and Careers at Minority Institutions (IGSP): A Collaboration Among Minority Institutions. Track 2. $800,000.

Research Interests

My present research interests are twofold:


  1. Interaction of microbes and mineral formation in extreme environments: I am very interested in the types of microbes that inhabit evaporite environments and how the role of both the microbes and the chemistry can influence mineral precipitation.  In conjunction with Dr. R. Brigmon, a microbiologist from the Savannah River Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina, we are  developing a data base that will serve as a tool for predicting the types of mineral and microbial morphologies that can be related to extraterrestrial environments, specifically martian evaporite environments.  We are presently collecting and comparing samples from different types of evaporite environments, including sample from the western United States, Caribbean Islands and the Dead Sea, Israel.  To understand the processes that control these environments, we collect water samples, compare mineral and microbial samples, and evaluate the influence of the geological history of the different  geological sites. These studies are mostly funded by NASA.
  2. Atmospheric ozone studies:  This is a relatively new research program that is presently being supported by the National Science Foundation.  The program is a collaborative initiative among 3 minority institutions, but is also being supported by the interested faculty at the University of Rhode Island and the University of Houston.  The three minority institutions, Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, South Carolina State University and the University of Houston-Downtown,  have formed a consortium called the Minority University Collaboration for Earth and Space Science (MUCESS). The consortium will  incorporate ozone investigations of the troposphere and stratosphere in student-based research and education programs.  The group has joint yearly workshops that alternate between the institutions and they are currently developing yearly joint weather balloon launches.  The members at the University of Houston-Downtown are Dr. P. Morris Smith and Dr. D. Musselwhite. The url site is
Recent Publications

H. W. Chaney, P. A. Morris, D. F. Soule, J. D. Soule, In: The Light and Smith manual: The intertidal invertebrates of Central California and Oregon. J. T. Carlton, editor. 4th Edition, University of California Press, Berkeley.  1001 p.  Invited Chapter in Book-Morris acting lead author as D. F. and J. D. deceased before reviews and galley corrections required, 2007. Bryozoans. p. 866-904.

P. A. Morris,  P. Reiff, Successful heliophysical programs emphasizing the relation of Earth and the Sun. Eos Transactions, American Joint Geophysical Union, Joint Assembly 88(23): ED31A-04. Abstract, 2007.

J Garcia, G. McKay, P. Morris, P. Reiff, Promoting an Integrated Science Approach in Teacher Training Programs. Eos Transactions, American Fall Geophysical Union 88(52): ED51A-0121. Abstract, 2007.

S. Austin, L. Johnson,P. Morris, C Salgado, D. Walter, Minority Institutions Collaboration in Geoscience Education and Research.  Eos Transactions, American Fall Geophysical Union 88(52): ED33B-1221. Abstract. (other than lead author, all others are alphabetically listed and do not indicate level of participation), 2007.

D. F. Soule (deceased March 2005), P. A. Morris, H. W. Chaney, Bryozoans and black coral. 14th Meeting of the International Bryozoology Association, July 2-7, 2007.  Boone, North Carolina, 2007.

S. Austin, L. Johnson, P. A. Morris, C Salgado, D. Walter, A geoscience collaboration among minority universities. Paper no. 206-59. Geological Society of America, October 28-31, Denver, Colorado. Abstract, 2007.

S. Grasby, P. A. Morris, Introduction:  Extreme Environment Analogue Studies.   Part I. Astrobiology 7:  644.  Invited Submission, 2007.

S. A. Austin, L. P. Johnson, P. A. Morris.  C. Salgado, D. K. Walter, A decade of lessons learned. Journal of Geoscience Education 55: 493-499.  Invited Submission, 2007.

R. L. Brigmon, P. A. Morris, Garriet Smith, Microbial films, mats, microbialites and stromatolites. p. 197-235  In:  Microbial Activities and Evolution of Life, Vol II, Modern Approaches in Solid Earth Sciences Book Series. Y. Dilek, H. Furnes, K. Muehlenbachs, editors. Springer Geosciences Publications, The Netherlands. Chapter in book, invited submission, 2008.

S. A. Austin, L. Johnson, B. Lefer, G. Morris, P. A. Morris, D.K. Walter, Atmospheric Balloon Studies: A Collaboration between Minority and Traditional Undergraduate and Graduate Institutions. Paper No. 311-14. . Geological Society of America, Houston, October 5-8. Abstract. (other than lead author, all others are alphabetically listed and do not indicate level of participation), 2008.

P. A. Morris, R. Brigmon, G. Smith, Evaporite Environments on Earth as a Potential Mars Analogue. Paper No. 238-6. Geological Society of America, Houston, October 5-8. Abstract, 2008.

R. Brigmon, P. A. Morris, G. Smith, Comparison of biofilm development in evaporite environments. Paper No. 238-5. Geological Society of America, Houston, October 5-8. Invited Presentation, 2008.

P. A. Morris, Tribute to John Lindsay.  Astrobiology 8 (4): 707-713.  Invited Submission, 2008.

P. A. Morris, S. Grasby, Introduction: Extreme Environment Analogue Studies. Part II.  Astrobiology 8: 805-805.  Invited Submission, 2008.

P. A. Morris, S. Austin, L. Johnson, D. Walter,  Student investigations of ozone: An NSF undergraduate research project.  Paper No. A511-0224.  Fall Meeting, Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union 89, 2008.

S. Austin, L. Johnson, P. A. Morris, P. Reiff, D. Walter,  International Polar Year (IPY): Thinking beyond polar bears and penguins. Paper No. ED33A-0630. Fall Meeting, Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union 89, 2008.

C. Allen, E. Garza,P. Gulati, D. Patel, C. Mendez, P. Morris, J. Nava, M. Waqar, Identification of Microorganisms in Lunar and Mars Simulant Soils.  Paper No. 195-1. Geological Society of America, Houston, October 5-8, 2008.

P. A. Morris, P. Reiff, C. Sumners,  Planetarium Shows: Public Outreach and Changing the Approach to Classroom Teaching. Paper No. ED73A-01. Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union,  90(22), Joint Assembly, 2009.

R. L. Brigmon., P. A. Morris, Evaporite depositional systems ecology:   microbiological, mineralogical and geochemistry constraints.  Paper 141-13.  Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon, 2009. 

S. A. Austin, L. P. Johnson, P. Morris, D. Musselwhite, D. Walter,  Minority Institution Collaborative Research and Education Initiatives in the Geosciences; Paper No. A21C-0233. Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meeting, 2009.

P. A. Morris, P. H. Reiff; C. Sumners, Addressing Learning Strategies for the Next Generation. ;ED51B-0524.  Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meeting, 2009.

A. Green Garcia, A. Hromis, D. Musselwhite, P. Morris, E. Vaquiz, J. M. Wright,   Successes and challenges of joint ozonesonde launches: an NSF undergraduate student research project. Paper 243-2.  Geological Society of American Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon, 2009.

A. Green Garcia, P. A. Morris, A. Hromis, E. Vaquiz, J. M. Wright, S. A. Austin, L. P. Johnson, D. Musselwhite, D. Walter,  Undergraduate Research at a Minority University: Studying the Atmospheric Conditions in Urban vs. Rural Areas.  Paper No. A21C-0166.  Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meeting, 2009.

R. L. Brigmon, P. A. Morris, C. Yeager, Interactions of Minerals and Microbes in Evaporite Environments: Can We Use this Information to Identify Potential Extraterrestrial Life? No. 5639, Session 504, Astrobiology Science Conference 2010, League City, Tx,  Student Presentations, 2010.

L. Flores, A. Krochmal, M. McCormick, G. A. Morris, P. A. Morris, K. Purdue, R Tachri, J. Vaught Wright, Ozone Studies in Houston: An NSF Undergraduate Student Research Project.  Paper No. 247-1. Geological Society of America, Houston, October 5-8. (authors alphabetically listed, does not indicate level of participation), 2010.


Minority University Consortium for Earth and Space Science (MUCESS)

Pictures from the Atmospheric Science RES Program March workshop in Paradox, NY.

Page maintained by CST Web Support Technician

Last updated or reviewed on 12/21/11

   Click here to print this page

Find us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   Read Skyline   Join us on LinkedIn   News RSS   Events RSS