Nebraska Authors

Robert Diffendal

AKA: R. F. Diffendal, Jr.

Born 1940 Hagerstown, MD (USA)

Emeritus Professor of Geology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has numerous scholarly publications on Nebraska, Great Plains, and Chinese geology. He is best known to Nebraskans for his many popular guides to the geology of the state and its parks and to fossils as seen and portrayed in the State Capitol, including a coloring book for children. Many of these are available through the catalog of the UNL Conservation and Survey Division. His most recent book Great Plains Geology, 2017, in the popular Discover the Great Plains series, is also aimed at the general reader.

See also, Erwin Barbour
Spouse: Anne P. Diffendal, archivist at NSHS.

Places Lived

Hagerstown, MD
Lancaster, PA
Crete, NE
Lincoln, NE

Author Of

  • Nonfiction


Geological Sciences; Fossils; Nature Writing; Nebraska Parks


Bachelor of Arts in Geology, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, 1962
Master of Science in Geology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, 1964
Ph.D. in Geology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, 1971


Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology, University of Nebraska State Museum

Places Worked

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
Doane College, Crete, NE
Zhongshan University, China


Emeritus Professor, UNL
Fellow, Geological Society of America
Fellow, UNL Center for Great Plains Studies
Elected Member, Sigma Gamma Epsilon, Earth Science Honorary, 1963
Awarded Shell Oil Fellowship, University of Nebraska, 1964-65
Awarded Travel Grants (2), University of Nebraska, 1966, 1968
Selected as Participant, National Science Foundation Short Course on Carbonate Sediments, Florida and
the Bahamas, 1970
Appointed as Research Affiliate of the University of Nebraska State Museum, 1973
Awarded Tenure, Doane College, 1974
Elected Member, Sigma Xi, 1975
Named in American Men and Women of Science, 1976
Appointed to Graduate Faculty, University of Nebraska, 1983
Appointed as Graduate Faculty Fellow, University of Nebraska, 1984
Awarded Tenure, University of Nebraska, 1986
Appointed as Research Associate of the University of Nebraska State Museum, 1987
Elected Member, Gamma Sigma Delta, Agriculture Honorary, 1988
Elected President, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Faculty Senate, 1988-89
Elected Fellow, Geological Society of America, 1989
Presented Distinguished Service Award by Geology Department, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1990
Elected Fellow, Center for Great Plains Studies, 1990
Awarded Visiting Professor Courtesy Appointment, Zhongshan University, China, 1998-2000
Presented Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, 2012


Council of Science Editors –- Emeritus Member
Geological Society of America – Senior Fellow; Chair of Organizing Committee, 1995
Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) -- Member
American Quaternary Association -- Member
Sigma Xi -- Member
Nebraska Academy of Sciences -- Chairman, Earth Science Section, 1975, Member
Nebraska Geological Society -- Treasurer, 1976-78; President, 1979-80; Member
National Association of Geology Teachers - Member
American Association of University Professors -- President, Nebraska State Conference, 1979; Member
Institute of Tertiary-Quaternary Studies -- Representative from Conservation and Survey Division and
Co-Chairman, 1982-83; Co-Chairman and Organizer
Center for Great Plains Studies -- Fellow, Publications Committee, 1992-95
Associate Editor, Great Plains Research, 1992-99
Gamma Sigma Delta – Member


Geologic History of Ash Hollow State Historical Park Nebraska. 1996.
Geology of Niobrara State Park, Knox County, Nebraska and Adjacent Areas. 1997. (contributor)
Field Guide to the Geology of the Harlan County Lake Area, Harlan County, Nebraska. 2002.
Lewis and Clark and the Geology of Nebraska and Parts of Adjacent States. 2003.
Lewis and Clark and the Geology of the Great Plains. 2004. (with Anne Diffendal)
Fossils on the Floor: Mosaics in the Rotunda of the Nebraska State Capitol. 2015.
Fossils on the Floor in the Nebraska State Capitol: A Coloring and Activities Book. 2015.
Great Plains Geology. 2017.

Editor, The Groundwater Atlas of Nebraska. (3rd revised edition) 2013.

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Robert Diffendal

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)