Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Culver and UMT student working on core samples

Above: Dr. Steve Culver, chair of geological sciences, works with a student at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) on core samples from the South China Sea.
Previous page: Culver with UMT professor Noor Azhar Mohd Shazili in the bowels of the Smithsonian Institution with a
T. rex. skull. (Contributed photos.)
Below, right: Examples of beautiful microfossils from the South China Sea. (Image by ECU graduate student S. Martin.)
Bottom page: Left - Culver (age 9) with his rock and fossil collection. Right - Culver's father lets the pigeons out for their daily exercise. (Contributed photos.)

10 Years of International Collaboration

Geological sciences chair receives honorary doctorate

December 12, 2017

By Lacey L. Gray
Director of Marketing and Communications
Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences

microfossils from the South China Sea

Dr. Steve Culver, chair of East Carolina University’s Department of Geological Sciences, has received an honorary doctorate from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. UMT is the designated marine science university in Malaysia, and Culver has been working with the university’s Institute of Oceanography for the past 10 years on collaborative, international field work and teaching short-courses to UMT students.


While Culver was not able to attend the university convocation to receive his honorary doctorate, which was presented by the Queen of Malaysia on Nov. 18, he provided a response that was read during the ceremony.


“The receipt of an honorary doctorate from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu is, indeed, a great honor,” said Culver. “I received my Ph.D. in oceanography in 1976, and now, 41 years on, giving a nice symmetry to my career, I receive another doctorate in oceanography.”


He said his honorary doctorate represents the pinnacle of his career.


“I cannot think of a recognition that would mean more to me or give me more pleasure. I am truly humbled,” said Culver.


In addition to his thanks, Culver also recognized the UMT colleagues he has worked with and encouraged the graduating students to know their strengths and weaknesses and to set goals that employ those strengths.


Culver’s collaboration with UMT has resulted in a number of successes for ECU and UMT students and researchers.


Along with ECU geological sciences faculty Drs. Dave Mallinson and Reide Corbett, Culver visited Malaysia several times to conduct field work with Malaysian colleagues and students. This international collaboration resulted in a National Science Foundation grant awarded to ECU, seven peer-reviewed publications with more to come, and ECU graduate students undertaking field work in Malaysia and conducting thesis projects on Malaysian marine geology in the South China Sea.


Born in 1952 in Blackpool, Lancashire, England, Culver is the son of a stay-at-home mother and an entrepreneurial father. Both of his parents left school at the age of 14, but they encouraged and nurtured Culver’s interest in paleontology.


Although Culver has worked his entire career in academics, he believes in leading a balanced life. He played soccer for five decades, has run 10 marathons, has a black belt in tai kwon do, and when he was a child, he raced pigeons with his father on weekends during the summers. Culver said pigeon racing is just like horse racing, only higher.

Culver at age 9 with his fossil collectionCulver liked to race pigeons with his father