Kurt Grimm
Associate Professor
Office: EOS-South 260   Phone: 604-822-9258
Personal Website: http:drkurtgrimm.com



DR. KURT ANDREW GRIMM (also see drkurtgrimm.com)

Airbreathing Mammal // Member // Father-Son // Explorer // Scientist // Innovator // Recipient // Overcomer // Contributor // Collaborative Conceptual Artist // Mariner  

Associate Professor, Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Earth V6T 1Z4  / Teaching and Learning Fellow, University Sustainability Initiative / kgrimm@eos.ubc.ca  

Principal and Founder, KingFisher Research, operating from our liveaboard platform, R/V TrinitySeas, a 46' ketch-rigged fiberglass sailboat.  

Research: Empirical Phenomenology: Characterizing Irreducible Phenomena-Dynamical Patterning in the Earth & Life Sciences  // Wet Tectonics // Life Is: A Unified Description of Life // Biofilms Everywhere: Functional Homologies Unite a Spectrum of Molecular-to-Circumplanetary Environments // Climate Consortium: A Biological Model of Climate // Transformation is not Transition: A Simple Model of Changing // Transformative Sustain-Ability Learning // Evidence-Based Collaborative Conceptual Art // Picturing Changing: A Picture-Driven Genre for Empirical Synthesis and Reflection

Biography: Kurt Grimm is an interdisciplinary Earth/Life scientist and is perpetually fascinated with patterning and transformative changing. Topical interests include self-organizing complexity, environmental Earth sciences, transformative sustain-ability learning and urban ecology. Conceptual and teaching innovations inform Life, health, climate and sustainability sciences.

The natural world revolves and evolves around spontaneous processing-patterning. I have examined self-organizing complexity as a deliberate and rigorous empirical undertaking for over 15 years. As part of discovering and articulating a simple and comprehensive synthesis, I have encountered and learned about the limits and intransigence of normative science. Science is a rich and necessary activity performed by very creative, skillful and diligent people. However, normative science appears to be deeply disoriented through nearly ubiquitous and erroneous application of reductionism, mechanical metaphors and  network-systems approaches.

Complexity is not Complicated. The phenomena of Nature are complex-dynamical holarchies and irreducable; machines and related technology are complicated-modular networks engineered and reducable. The depths to which a mechanical worldview has been deployed and entrenched in the sciences and more broadly into the technoindustrial world-under-worldview is bewildering and seemingly monolithic. 

My lifework is a unique synthesis of Earth, Life and environment that informs and perhaps may catalyze a simple yet necessary undertaking: the regenerative transformation of industrial worldview, planetary cities and global urban metabolism. Moving forward from 30+ years inside institutional science, Our ship is presently berthed in the Sea of Cortez, near Guaymas, Sonora Mexico and our explorations in 2015-2016 will center in "the world's aquarium", and in coastal Mexico further south.   Conceptual Art: Spontaneous insight and persevering effort over 15 years permitted development of an innovative, evidence-based and testable synthesis. Growing out from recognition of simple patterning — dynamical processing of loops within loops — further exploration and teaching required and perpetuated the invention of new communication tools. A large body of evidence-based collaborative conceptual art (EBCCA) is central to a new language and genre for communicating a rigorous, evidence-based, non-reductionist and testable synthesis. (see drkurtgrimm.com, being rebuilt August 2015, zx). 

A picture-driven pedagogy for communicating and facilitating effective learning in the Earth and sustainability sciences has also been developed. I am very pleased to share these resources; please send me an email. Biography Two: From my research foundations in sedimentology, applied ecology and Earth systems science, I have encapsulated a simple yet comprehensive hypothesis that describes and predicts characteristics of dynamical patterning across a broad phenomenological spectrum. A simple description with broad explanatory power and explicit testability has emerged from 15 years of mulitfaceted explorations.

Several Aspects are summarized here: 1) Machine World: A reflection-critique of normative science and the entrenchment of reductionist methods, mechanical metaphors and a structure-first, network/systems-based worldview. These distort and limit perception and accurate description/depiction of dynamical phenomena that predominate in the observable universe, including the natural world of planet, Life and environment. 2) Life Is: A Unified and Predictive Description of Living is evidence based, begins before and extends beyond the conventions of an organismal-genomic Life-definition and the neodarwinian paradigm (http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper48474.html ); 3) Biofilms Everywhere: Conceptual disunity is prominent within and beyond the Life and environmental sciences; there exists no simple and comprehensive hypothesis for the origin and evolution (change through time) of molecular-to-circumplanetary environments(https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014AM/webprogram/Paper243043.html; also survey conceptual art at this link). Functional homologies unite a spectrum of discrete manifestations of Living upon substrates to produces a nested consortium of coevolving and interdependent biofilms.

The consummate synthesis and its conceptual elements deliver broad explanatory power, explicit testability and clear utility for 21st century health and sustain-ability practice and exploration.  


Circle G Farm, Brimfield, Illinois, USA. My father, Oliver Gilbert Grimm, is a 5th generation American farmer; my parents taught me how to work and follow instructions; initial development of practical skills, immersion experiences in agri-culture.

School of Hard Knocks: I have had diverse opportunities to learn about limits, consequences, perseverance, compassion and blessing. I am very grateful for all of the learning opportunities that have been available to me. It is all being transformed into usefulness and fruit-fullness.

Higher Education: Denison University (B.Sc., Biology/Geology) // University of Wisconsin (M.Sc., paleogeography/paleoecology) // University of California Santa Cruz, Department of Earth & Marine Sciences (PhD., 1992). Earth system science: Earth system history, genetic stratigraphy & paleoecology.

Superb Teachers: Mom & Dad.Carol Brooks.Robert Haubrich.Kennard Bork.Lloyd Pray.Larry Schlosser.David Koop.Joe Focht.Jon Courson.Dan Gowe.My sons, Ollie & Eli.  

Proudest Achievements

Innovation & perseverance in my professional & personal life; willingness to pioneer, bioneer, learn from and take responsibility for my Life experiences.

Grateful and full-engaged father to Oliver Forest (13) and Elijah Fisher (11) Grimm

Firefighter and Level-Three Emergency Medical First Responder, Roberts Creek Volunteer Fire department, 2005-2008; steady contributions and willingness to learn; delivered calm and capable performances in all circumstances.

Owner/Operator/Restorer of Beverley K, a 37’/eight-tonne westcoast troller (cedar over oak with fir decks; built 1942, Sointula, BC); 3.5 years of kinesthetic-learning while living-aboard facilitated diverse coastal explorations, cognitive repatterning and recognition of our wonder-full world.

Interdisciplinary explorations of Land, Sea & Sky: Pioneered experiential learning for UBC science students, Baja California, Mexico, 1998, 1999 & 2001.The Science & Practice of Sustainability (TSAPOS; 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008): Innovation, adventure and success in transformative sustainability learning (TSL; see here: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/14676370810842193 ).

Activism and Innovation at UBC: Diverse investments and sacrifice towards advancing sustain-ability goals.

Killam Award, 2001, UBC’s highest award for educational innovation and excellence.

Outstanding Paper for 1998: Palaios (leading journal in paleoecology/Earth system history).  

Selected Research Publications

Grimm, K.A. 2006. Katrina, Wilma and Me: Learning to live with climate surprises?. Geoscience Canada 33(2):76-80.

Sipos, Y., Battisti, B., and Grimm, K.A., 2008. Achieving Transformative Sustainability Learning: Engaging head, hands and heart. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 9(1): 68-86.

Grimm, K.A. and Lange, C.M. and Gill, A.S., 1997.  Self-sedimentation of phytoplankton blooms in the geologic record. Sedimentary Geology (Expressed), 110(3-4): 151-161.

Chang, A.S., Grimm, K.A., and White, L.D. 1998. Diatomaceous sediments from the Miocene Monterey Formation, California: A lamina-scale investigation of biological, ecological, and sedimentary processes. Palaios 13: 439-458.

Grimm, K.A. and Föllmi, K.F., 1994.  Doomed Pioneers: Allochthonous crustacean tracemakers in anaerobic basinal strata, Oligo-Miocene San Gregorio Formation, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Palaios, 9(4): 313-334. ·      

Pufahl, P.K. and Grimm, K.A., 2003. Coated phosphate grains: Proxy for physical, chemical, and ecological changes in seawater. Geology 31(9): 801-804. ·      

Pufahl, P.K., Grimm, K.A., Abed, A.M. and Sadaqah, R.M.Y., 2003. Upper Cretaceous (Campanian) phosphorites in Jordan: implications for the formation of a south Tethyan phosphorite giant. Sedimentary Geology 161(3-4): 175-205. ·      

Johnson, K.M. and Grimm, K.A. 2001. Opal and Organic Carbon in Laminated Diatomaceous Sediments: Saanich Inlet, Santa Barbara Basin and the Miocene Monterey Formation. Marine Geology 174: 159-175. ·      

Grimm, K.A., 2000. Stratigraphic condensation and the redeposition of economic phosphorite: Allostratigraphy of Oligo-Miocene shelfal sediments, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in Craig R. Glenn, Liliane Prévôt-Lucas and Jacques Lucas (eds ) Marine Authigenesis: From Microbial to Global, SEPM Special Publication No. 66:325-347. ·      

Benson, B., Clague, J.J. and Grimm, K.A. 1999. Relative sealevel inferred from intertidal marsh sediments containing tsunami sand sheets, Vancouver Island, BC. Quaternary International 60: 49-54. ·               

Chang, A.S., and Grimm, K.A. 1998. Speckled beds: Distinctive gravity-flow deposits in finely-laminated diatomaceous sediments, Miocene Monterey Formation, California. Journal of Sedimentary Research 69(1): 122-134. ·               

Chang, A.S., Grimm, K.A., and White, L.D. 1998. Diatomaceous sediments from the Miocene Monterey Formation, California: A lamina-scale investigation of biological, ecological, and sedimentary processes. Palaios 13: 439-458. ·               

Grimm, K.A. and Orange, D., 1997. Syn-sedimentary fracturing, fluid migration and subaqueous mass wasting: Intrastratal microfractured zones in laminated diatomaceous sediments, Miocene Monterey Formation, California, USA. Journal of Sedimentary Research 67(3): 615-627. ·               

Grimm, K.A., 1997. Biogenic Sediments, Geophysiology and Earth's Environmental History. PALAIOS 12(4): 299-301. ·               

Grimm, K.A. and Lange, C.M. and Gill, A.S., 1997. Self-sedimentation of phytoplankton blooms in the geologic record. Sedimentary Geology (Expressed), 110(3-4): 151-161. ·               

Benson, B.E., Grimm, K.A., and Clague, J.J., 1997. Tsunami sand sheets beneath tidal marshes on Northwest Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Quaternary Research 48: 192-204. ·               

Caplan, M.L., Bustin, R.M., and Grimm, K.A., 1996. Demise of a Devonian-Carboniferous carbonate ramp by eutrophication, Geology 24(8): 715-718.    

Grimm, K.A. and Lange, C.M. and Gill, A.S., 1996. The biological forcing of hemipelagic sedimentary laminae: Evidence from ODP Site 893, Santa Barbara Basin, California, Journal of Sedimentary Research, 66(3): 613-624. ·               

Grimm, K.A. and Föllmi, K.F., 1994. Doomed Pioneers: Allochthonous crustacean tracemakers in anaerobic basinal strata, Oligo-Miocene San Gregorio Formation, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Palaios, 9(4): 313-334. ·         ·      

Glenn, C.R., Föllmi, K.F., Riggs, S.R., Baturin, G.N. and Grimm, K.A., et al., (1994). Phosphorus and phosphorites: Sedimentology and environments of formation. Eclogae geol. Helv. 87/3: p. 747-788.        

Research Interests




Selected Publications