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Geology students get into the field often, some starting the summer before they enter the classroom.


Careers and internships

Geology majors are well-prepared for graduate school in earth and environmental sciences or law, and many majors pursue careers in earth sciences, education or business. Many geology majors also choose to minor in environmental studies or biology.

Paid internships

During recent summers, geology majors held paid internships and jobs in:

  • Research using drones to map beach morphology at the University of Delaware.
  • Research using diamond anvils to conduct ultra-high pressure mineral geophysics experiments at the Carnegie's Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments Center.
  • Internship with the Illinois State Geological Survey to study the paleoclimate and paleoenvironment of southwest Illinois.
  • Research on sea-level change of the east coast of North America at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, New York.
  • Research of stream profiles using Terrestrial LiDAR data at Western Illinois University. 
  • Internship to study the health and slope stability of urban watersheds, Upper Mississippi Center, Augustana College.
  • Research on the heat-treatment of gemstones, Chanthaburi, Thailand.
  • Research on mercury contamination of Arctic birds, Thule, Greenland.
  • Internship at the Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C on the biogeochemistry of ancient Earth.
  • Internship in the paleontology lab of the Field Museum, Chicago
  • Teaching assistantship for a geology field course, Wyoming.
  • Dinosaur tooth histology research in the paleo labs at Augustana College.
  • Northern Rockies Paleontology Assistantship through GeoCorps and the National Park Service.

Recent graduates

A sampling of what recent graduates in geology are doing:

Robert Martin ’17 is an environmental geologist with Trinity Environmental in Sugar Land, Texas.

Jessa Rizzo ’17 is pursuing a graduate degree with the Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad, California.

Jacob Piske ’17 is pursuing a master's degree in hydrogeology at Illinois State University.

Laura Behymer'16 is a staff geologist with Tri-State Asphalt in Morris, Illinois.

Kati Ponder '16 is a natural resource management intern with the Bureau of Land Management in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Laura Ames '16 is an environmental lab technician for Sanders Laboratories, Ft. Meyers, Florida.

Evan Blodgett '15 is a staff geologist for the geotechnical engineering firm Chosen Valley Testing in Rochester, Minnesota.

Cody Johnson '15 is a restoration technician for Applied Ecological Services in Milwaukee, Wisconsin .

Kevin Gosiewski '15 is a field technician for the environmental consulting firm Mostardi Platt in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Ryan Plath '15 is pursuing a master's degree in hydrogeology at Illinois State University.

Joey Romero '15 is pursuing a Ph.D. in biogeoscience at Arizona State University.

Brian Trausch '15 is a lab technician for United States Gypsum Corporation in Libertyville, Illinois.

Diana Boudreau '14 is pursuing a master's degree in paleontology at Marshall University, West Virginia.

Jordan Carey '14 is pursuing a master's degree in fluvial geomorphology at University of California, Davis.

Lauren Kirik '14 is an operations geologist with the independent energy company Apache Corporation in San Antonio, Texas.

Brian Konecke '14 is pursuing a Ph.D. in geochemistry/economic geology at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Alexis McAdams '14 is a program assistant for the Earth and Planetary Sciences department, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.

Matt Osman '14 is a Fulbright Award winner pursuing a Ph.D. in glaciology/climatology at the MIT's Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Joint Program, Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Fisher '13 is a full-time preparator for the Transantarctic Vertebrate Paleontology Project at the Field Museum, Chicago.

Randy Lightfoot '13 is a diamond grader for the Gemological Institute of America.

Carl Peters '13 is a staff scientist at the environmental services company BBJ Group, Chicago, Illinois.

Maren Mathisen '12 received a master's degree in geology at the Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, and is working for Statoil, Houston, Texas.

Austin Emmer '12 is a pollution control technician with the Metropolitan Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Illinois.


Students taking notes in the Sunlight Basin of Wyoming during the annual Summer in the Rockies pre-term field course for incoming first-years.

Augustana offers a major and minor in geology. The department emphasizes field experiences, offering numerous local and distant field trips every year and providing opportunities for student research during the summer and the school year.

Students can earn a departmental distinction upon successful completion of both a superior senior research thesis, and the geology degree with a GPA of at least 3.5.

The geology faculty all are engaged in active research, much of which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), including Research Experiences for Undergraduates funded projects. Research projects may vary with student interest and funding. Recent projects have included experimental petrology, paleontology, geomorphology, hydrology and glacial geology.

Many students participate in NSF-funded programs during the summer between junior and senior year. Students have traveled to Alaska, Mongolia, Iceland, Maine, Kamchatka, and the Caribbean Islands with such programs. The geology department also supports research and field trip experiences with additional funding.

What students say

Jeremy Hoffman ‘11, geology major, classics minor:

“Nearly every faculty member I’ve studied under at Augustana has served to help me get here, but I especially credit the extraordinary talent within our geology department with really giving me the major push forward. Without them as a rock (pun intended) to cling to, I wouldn’t have made it very far in my senior research endeavors. Learning that I could intrinsically motivate myself to sit in the mineralogy lab in the basement of Swenson Geosciences for nearly six to seven hours a day picking microscopic plankton shells out of sand last summer was perhaps the most important step in completing my Senior Inquiry project, which has catapulted me into the national undergraduate research limelight as of late. Further, it has given me confidence that I can complete any assignment given to me, whether it be academic or professional.”

Elizabeth Fisher '13, geology and biology major

"I was originally attracted to Augustana because of its excellent geology program and the many opportunities to go out in the field, the smaller class size-giving me a greater likelihood to know my professors personally-and the overall liberal arts experience. But it was the friendliness and enthusiasm of students and teachers that really made me feel like I was wanted on campus and would do well at Augustana.I had many opportunities to travel around the U.S. with the help of money donated from alumni. I went to the Nebraska Badlands, Hawaii, the Grand Canyon,Wyoming, and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. I also was part of the Transantarctic Vertebrate Paleontology Project, thanks to Dr. Hammer. Through this project, I was given the opportunity to intern at the Field Museum in Chicago and travel to a dinosaur quarry near Hanksville, Utah with the Burpee Museum (Rockford, Ill.). I also did work for the Transantarctic Vertebrate Paleontology Project through my Senior Inquiry."

Matt Osman '14, geology major, mathematics and environmental studies minor:

"I came stumbling into Geology 101 fall term of freshman year after spooking myself out of taking calculus. Now, as a graduate researcher at the Massachusetts Instituteof Technology (MIT), it seems indisputable that few other decisions in my life have been quite as formative or fortuitous. The rigorous-yet-supportive structure of the geology major endowed me with the tools and confidence necessary for high-caliber research at MIT. The myriad opportunities for intellectual growth, travel, and hands-on research at Augustana may be as vast as the study of the Earth itself! From early on, my own unique passion for polar climates and the cryosphere(ice) was fully fostered by my geology professors, who promoted my participation in two distinct Arctic expeditions and research projects, respectively. Whether you have an insatiable curiosity for the natural world, or simply wonder what it feels like to morph rocks out of smoldering lava, Augustana geology will have something for you."

Sierra Kindley ’19

Kindley ’19 sets a course in freshwater conservation research

New data won Sierra Kindley ’19 a top award at the Mississippi River Research Consortium.

Dr. William Hammer

Retiring dinosaur hunter will miss students

Dr. William Hammer, who discovered a new dinosaur and got a mountain named after Augustana, is retiring in May.

allison pease

Geology, physics drive 2017 Hasselmo winner

Allison Pease is the winner of the Nils Hasselmo Award for Academic Pursuit. The physics and geology plans to use her $5,000 prize money for research.