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

  • 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

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

• 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:

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.

Laura Behymer '16 is a lab technician for Tri-State Asphalt Corp., Morris, Illinois.

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 Innovation Center 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 staff professional geologist for Antea Group, Des Moines, Iowa.

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.

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.

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.

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."

Geology news and notes

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

Smith ’02 to succeed Hammer in Antarctic hunt for dinosaurs

For a while, Nate Smith ’02 wasn't sure where college would lead him. He came to Augustana as a chemistry major, thinking he would go back to teach and coach at his old high school in Crystal Lake outside Chicago. Then he took an honors course with paleontologist Dr. William Hammer.

Dr. William Hammer on dawn of Antarctic exploration

Dr. William Hammer, Fritiof Fryxell Chair in Geology, notes that 1841 marks the dawn of Antarctic exploration. British naval Captain James Ross, commanding HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, discovered what they named the Victoria Barrier, and would later be renamed the Ross Ice Shelf. Hammer is the discoverer of the first dinosaur remains unearthed in Antarctica.

The making of a college pro

Nick Torres ’18 is a geology and environmental studies major with a passion for leadership, entrepreneurship and teamwork. Back home in Joliet, Torres is the owner of a College Pro Painters franchise, where he employs friends and other students to work on different projects.

Professor brings dinosaur treasures home

The Fryxell Geology Museum is one of the jewels of the Augustana College campus, and it has been carefully polished by Dr. William Hammer, the head of the museum and professor of geology. Visitors are greeted by a 22-foot Cryolophosaurus, a carnivorous dinosaur he discovered in Antarctica in 1991.

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.

Joey Romero '15: stronger than ever

Joey Romero is in the geosciences Ph.D. program at Arizona State University. Originally set on being a vet, he discovered a passion for geology and foreign language. "Though these three majors aren’t where I would have pictured myself my first year, I wouldn’t change the choices I’ve made because of all of the fantastic opportunities they’ve provided me with."

’14 geology grad describes job as ‘so much fun’

Lauren Kirik '14 came to Augustana to become a graphic designer, but an internship at a full-service branding company convinced her otherwise. Dr. Mike Wolf suggested she take a course in mineralogy after Geology 101, and as Kirik says, "I never looked back."

Video: Augie Minute with Dr. Michael Wolf

Geology professor Michael Wolf discusses his "volcano lab" and some of the projects his students are working on.

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."

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.
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