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Geology

From left, Jordan Carey '14, Alexis McAdams '14 and Matt Osman '14 standing in front of their posters at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December 2013. (More)

  • Careers/internships
  • About the program
  • What students say

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

In the summer of 2013, geology majors held paid internships and jobs in:

• Dinosaur research at the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry, Utah
• Subarctic lake methane flux research in Sweden with the Northern Ecosystems Research for Undergraduate program
• Megathrust earthquake research with the NSF Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology program
• Land and water resources experimental research at University of Minnesota through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates
• Internship in the paleontology lab of the Field Museum, Chicago
• Internship with an environmental firm, Davenport, Iowa
• Geology field course in Sardinia, Italy

Recent graduates

A sampling of what recent graduates in geology are doing:

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

Randy Lightfoot '13 is an environmental air emissions test technician for Mostardi Platt Environmental, Elmhurst, Ill.

Maren Mathisen '12 is pursuing a master's degree in geology at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

Jeremy Hoffman '11 is working on a doctorate in glacial geology at Oregon State University. He was the first recipient of the American Geophysical Union David E. Lumley Young Scientist Scholarship for Energy and Environmental Science. 

Patrick Hoefle '11 is a hydrogeologist with Natural Resource Technology in Milwaukee.

Augustana offers a major and minor in geology, as well a major in teaching earth and space sciences.

The geology 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.

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.”

Dinosaur hunter helps police identify skeletal remains

When he's not hunting for fossils in Antarctica or lecturing to his Augustana students about prehistoric life, William Hammer helps local law enforcement agencies in their investigations by classifying unidentified bones. Although some police departments have their own forensic anthropologist — someone who examines and identifies human skeletal remains — local Illinois investigators call Hammer.

On to Greenland, glaciers and MIT

Matt Osman was in a tough spot. He had a life-changing decision to make and not a lot of time. "It completely consumed my psyche for an entire month," he said. "I never was expecting to be in the position to be choosing between the top research university in the world and a Fulbright."

Geology news and notes

News from the Augustana Department of Geology about field trips, internships, student publications and honors.

More Than I Imagined: Matt Osman

Senior Matt Osman wasn't "academically oriented" in high school. "I only enrolled in Geology 101 at random," he said. "Now, four years later, I'm graduating with degrees in both geology and math and am set to attend one of the world's foremost scientific research institutions! Who'da thunk it?"

A cut above the rest

When Brian Konecke ’14 talked with a guest speaker after a gemology class in early December, he never imagined the conversation would take him to Chanthaburi, Thailand. But a few weeks later, the 22-year-old geology major from Itasca, Ill., was walking among the buyers and brokers in the Chanthaburi gemstone market where bags of colored gemstones worth hundreds of thousands of dollars are emptied on tables in front of interested buyers from around the world.

Speaker says ice sheets prove earth warming

Data from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica supports arguments our world is warming, according to NASA scientist Lora Koenig. She shared her observations on the ice sheets -- the massive layer of ice which blankets land masses such as Greenland and Antarctic -- at a Polar Lecture at Augustana Thursday night. She also projected what may be in the ice sheet's future.

Geology majors presenting at Geophysical Union

Three geology majors who were selected for National Science Foundation Student Research programs last summer are headed to San Francisco this week to present their research projects at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The three students, all seniors, are Jordan Carey, Alexis McAdams and Matt Osman.

Student helps police in effort to solve cold case

Grant Wick, a senior geology major from Fort Collins, Colo., and Dr. Michael Wolf are trying to help police solve the mystery of the disappearance of a Moline man. They're looking at mud found on the Chevrolet Suburban that belonged to Jerry Wolking, a man who police say would never have driven a dirty vehicle. It was found at the Quad City International Airport in October 1990, but Wolking never got on a flight.

Snapshots from Summer in the Rockies

Incoming first-year students started class early on the annual Summer in the Rockies trip, which includes a 3-credit lab science course, GEOL105: Introductory Physical Geology in the Rocky Mountains. Students study geology in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the spectacular Rocky Mountains of Wyoming.

Geology Museum welcomes two new reptiles

Augustana'’s Fryxell Geology Museum added two flying reptiles called pterosaurs. The full-scale replicas are hanging over a 22-foot fossil of Cryolophosaurus ellioti, a large carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica by Augustana paleontologist Dr. William Hammer.
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