Science / Education Work

David Dolak is Professor of Instruction at the Department of Science and Mathematics at Columbia College Chicago.   He has taught at Columbia since 1999.   In addition, he maintains an active career of freelance writing, teaching, and lecturing on a variety of topics in earth/environmental science, natural history, the science and craft of musical instrument design/construction, and the mathematical development of musical scales and tuning systems.

From 1990-97 he was an Environmental Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.  Earlier careers include Consultant at Versar, Inc. and Chemist at United States Steel, Gary Works.

David Dolak has a BS from St. Josephs College, Rensselaer, IN and a MS from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington.  His graduate thesis was done at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.


Below are the educational courses and lectures that David Dolak has developed and taught:


Columbia College Chicago

The Physics (Science) of Musical Instruments

Historical Geology

Environmental Science

A River Runs Through it:  Crossroads Chicago and the Making of America


JobLink Learning Center, East Chicago, IN

Guitar Making:  Build your Own Guitar or Ukulele

Open Woodshop Lab for String Instrument Repair;   Fossil Hunt at Mazon Creek;

Hike the Indiana Dunes;  Hike

Fossil Tour of Camp Sagawau

Guided Tour of Field Museum (Chicago)  Members Night

The Graham School at the University of Chicago

The Science of Music

Coral Reef, Rain Forest, Ice Age: the Geologic Story of Northern Illinois

Musical Universalis: The Music of the Spheres.  (one-day workshop)

Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL

The Four Seasons of Northern Illinois Geology

Soils: a Geological and Ecological Approach

Our Glacial History

The Geology and Environmental History of the Indiana Dunes

The Geology of the Upper Illinois River Valley; Across Our Continental Divide

Reading Topographic and Geologic Maps

The Night Sky for Naturalist

Geology of the Palo

Making Wood Sing: Wood and Musical Instrument

Bicycle Tour of the Glacial Geology of the Arboretum

Also, Earth Science at the Arboretum,  a graduate credit course accredited through Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois.


Field Museum Chicago Illinois

 Fossil Basics

Advanced Chicago Geology

Fossil Collecting Tour at Pit 11 for Mazon Creek Fauna

Fossil Collecting in Chicago’s Bedrock, the Thornton Quarry

Fossil Collecting at Larson Quarry

Fossil Collecting in the Ordovician Rock of Southern Indiana


Camp Sagawau, Cook County Forest Preserves

  Red Gate Woods, History of the Atomic Legacy of the Palos Hills

  Fossil Tour of Camp Sagawau and the CCC Quarry

  Geology of the Palos Hills


Gibson Woods Nature Center, Hammond Indiana

Ancient Beach Geology of the Calumet Region


I&M Canal Corridor Association, La Salle, IL

Fossils in Your Backyard, the Story of the Mazon Creek Fossils

Geology as Destiny, Across the Chicago Portage.


Lizzadro Musuem of Lapidary Art, Elmhurst, IL;   Oak Park Public Library;  Friends of the Chicago Portage;   Harper College, Palatine IL:   Roosevelt University, Schaumburg, IL; Columbia College Chicago

Geology as Destiny, Across the Chicago Portage and the Continental Divide, a Story of Glaciers, Voyaguers, and Carp!





Published Materials


Article:  The Concretion Conundrum: Current Research at Mazon Creek, D. Dolak & V. McCoy, Yale University;   Mid-America Paleontological Society, Vol. 35 No. 2  March/April 2012.

Software Program Development:   “Zarlino: A Software Application for the Exploration of Musical Scales and Temperament;”  Technology Fellowship Award, Columbia College Chicago, 2010

Article: “Summer Meditations on Erupting Oil, Flying Fish, and Geology;”  The Earth Science News,  V. 61, # 8,  Sept. 2010 newsletter of the Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois.

Book ReviewGood Vibrations: the Physics of Music by B Parker in Physics Today, August 2010.

Article:  “The Creatures of Mazon Creek,”  In the Field    (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL magazine) Spring 2004

Online Article Series    “Two Minute Professor”  in  Reservior;  Columbia College   2006-7

“ How Do We Measure Deep Time?”

“Global Warming: Life in a Greenhouse”

“Why ‘Fossil” Fuel?”

“Across the Continental Divide(s)”

“Parting the Waters”

“Rolling on the River”

“Dinosaurs (Still) Rule the Roost”

“It’s Not Easy Being Green”

“A Matter of Perspective:  Mine, Ours, and the Earth’s”

“Sweet Seventeen (a Cicada Story)”

“The Nobel Goes Global”

“Life in the Lab”


Thesis ProjectWater Resources: A Baseline Inventory of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore;   United States National Park Service 1985




Poster: Distribution of Fossiliferous Concretions at Mazon Creek    co-authors Victoria McCoy and Derrik Briggs (Yale University);  10th North American Paleontology Convention, Gainsville, FL.  February, 2014

“Engaging Arts Students in Science:  An Integrative Approach Using Sound, Music, And Visualization to Teach Physics,”   European League of Institutes of the Arts, Claiming Creativity  Conference,  Chicago IL, April 2010  and Illinois Science Teachers Association annual meeting,  Oct. 2011, Tinley Park, IL

New Musical Instruments (display);  Guild of American Luthiers National Conventions, Tacoma WA,  June 2011;  July 2014, July 2017

“New Musical Instruments “ (display) Northern Illinois Instrument Makers, Rockford, IL  Spring 2010, and  2011, Fall 2012 and 2013

“From Pythagoras to Hendrix:  The Development of Tempered Musical Scales for the Guitar,”   Science and Mathematics Colloquium Series, Science and Math Department, Columbia College Chicago,  October, 25, 2007

“The Math of Music”  to the Museum Alumni Science Partners Program.  Museum of Science and Industry; Chicago,  2007

“Across the Chicago Portage,”   Science Chicago Field Trip, Sept. 20, 2008

“The Concretion Conundrum; Current Research at Mazon Creek”  November 11, 2007 Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, Elmhurst, IL.

“The Science of Music,” National Science Olympiad Teacher Training Workshop,  Hammond IN Nov. 2007

“The Science of Musical Instrument Construction.”   Demonstration of wood acoustics and a live guitar performance on WBEZ National Public Radio,  January, 1990.

“The Modeling of Contaminant Flow During Proposed Treatment of U.S. Department of Energy Low-Level Radioactive Mixed Wastes,”  D.A Dolak, et. al.,  Argonne National Laboratory,  United States Department of Energy,  WM Symposia, Tucson, AZ, March 1995.

“Woodworking, Instruments and Furniture” (display )   Columbia College Art & Design Department 10th Floor Gallery, January 2006;

“New Musical Instruments “ (display) Columbia College All-Faculty Retreat Salon, August 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015