Darrel Cowan is Professor of Earth & Space Sciences, College of the Environment, University of Washington. As a field-oriented structural geologist, he and his students have investigated field areas in the North American Cordillera, Alaska, Japan, Croatia, the northern Apennines in Italy, and more recently, Sicily. He has focused much of his work on regional tectonic problems, how ancient chaotic mélanges and olistostromes are related to accretionary processes at convergent plate margins, and on the origin of fault rocks in shallow crustal brittle faults and shear zones. Cowan received his B.S. and Ph.D. in geology from Stanford University.
He began his professional career as a geologist in the Alaska Division of Shell Oil Company. Since 1974, he has been on the faculty in the University of Washington serving as chair of the former Department of Geological Sciences from 1989 to 1994, and as acting chair in 2000-2001. While acting chair, he facilitated the creation of the new Department of Earth & Space Sciences.
Cowan is a Fellow of GSA. He served as GSA Councilor in 2004-2008 and as chair of the Structural Geology & Tectonics Division and the Cordilleran Section. He was General Chair for the 1994 GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle.