Mike Retelle teaches courses that focus on Earth surface environments and records of environmental change. His courses include an introductory course called Earth Surface Processes (Geo 103), Sedimentology (Geo 210), and Quaternary Geology (Geology 310). Mike also alternates teaching several field-based short term units: Limnology and Paleolimnology of Maine Lakes, Field Geology and Glaciation of Northern New England.
Currently Mike is involved in several research projects in high latitude areas of the North Atlantic region. He began his arctic research in the Canadian arctic focusing on glacial and sea level history and high resolution records of climate change preserved in annually layered lake sediments.
In 2005, Mike began working in western Spitsbergen (Svalbard, Norwegian arctic) on the Svalbard REU Project (National Science Foundation, Research Experience for Undergraduates program. This project involves the study of modern processes in a high arctic glacial-fluvial-lacustrine system and the investigation of longer term and high resolution climate change from lake sediment cores. He currently directs the summer research program for undergraduate students as a summer course sponsored by the Arctic Geology Department at UNIS, the University Centre in Svalbard. He and Professor Ray Bradley, UMass Amherst were recently funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation to study the effects of the warming climate on the high arctic hydrologic system in western Svalbard.
He is also currently working on a collaborative project in the northern coastal Norway with his students and colleagues Al Wanamaker (Iowa State University) and Michael Carroll (Akvaplan Niva, Tromsø, Norway). Reconstruction of marine climate from Medieval time to present is accomplished using growth pattern and stable isotope variability of the long lived clam Arctica islandica, found offshore and on modern beaches and above present sea level on raised marine deposits that go back several thousand years.
He recently was involved in a project in the Shetland Islands with Bates Professors Gerald Bigelow (archaeologist in the History Department), Will Ambrose (Biology), Beverly Johnson (Geology) and Michael Jones (History) on the Shetland Islands Climate and Settlement Project. His role is to recover and analyze lacustrine sediment records that preserve records of environmental change during the period of occupation of the archaeology sites (Late Holocene-age sites span Norse to 16th century occupation).
Closer to home Mike works with Bates Geology students in a long term beach monitoring program on the coast in Central Maine. He also frequently collaborates with long time colleague Dr. Tom Weddle from the Maine Geological Survey on studies of the glacial and postglacial history of Maine.