The research opportunities at Wooster prepared Sarah McGrath ’17 for her graduate studies
What kinds of jobs do environmental geoscience graduates from The College of Wooster have?
Graduates in environmental geoscience from The College of Wooster have gone on to protect natural resources and improve environmental health as geoscientists at non-profit organizations, environmental consulting firms, and government agencies. Some pursue careers in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), using spatial data and satellite imagery to solve environmental problems. Others become business leaders in the environmental remediation industry, policy specialists who advise lawmakers on climate and water resilience, and outdoor educators inspiring the next generation of scientists. Many Wooster environmental geoscientists go on to top-tier graduate or professional programs to build careers in research, law, and more.
Environmental Geoscience at The College of Wooster
Environmental Geoscience at Wooster an interdisciplinary approach to solving complex global problems facing the Earth. Students take courses and conduct research with a focus on the physical environment and its interactions with humans. The Earth is our classroom and our small, advanced classes feature field trips to research sites near campus. As early as their first year, students start conducting research. Experiential leaning is central to the program and many students participate in summer internships and research projects through partnerships established by the college. All students at The College of Wooster complete independent study under the guidance of a faculty mentor, culminating in a thesis delivered in their senior year.
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Department Chair and Associate Professor of Earth Sciences
Name: Virginia E. Roberts Major: Biology Minor: Earth Science Advisors: Dr. Carlo Moreno, Dr. Jennifer Ison (second reader) Cavity nesting wasps are contributors to […]
Shelley Judge, associate professor of Earth Sciences, and her advisee, Morgan Pedroso Curry ’21 share how they maintained a mentoring relationship despite challenges of the pandemic.
Dendrochronological analysis of the tree ring series of Mountain Hemlock, Western Hemlock, European Larch, and White Oak trees Srushti Chaudhari ’22, Earth Science Mazvita […]
The Earth Sciences Department offers two majors: geology and environmental geoscience. Both majors share a set of foundational science courses, followed by a selection of advanced courses in the earth sciences or cross-listed disciplines that allow students to pursue their interests and goals. The geology major is a more traditional earth science curriculum that prepares students for a variety of geoscience careers in fields ranging from paleontology and natural disasters to energy and natural resources. The environmental geoscience major is an environmental science that emphasizes Earth surface processes and interdisciplinary methods.
Students interested in environmental geoscience as part of their course of study can complete a minor in Earth Studies, which includes six courses in both environmental geoscience and geology.
In their junior year, Geology and Environmental Geoscience majors undertake a Junior Independent Study (I.S.) project in close collaboration with their peers and a faculty mentor. Students study the concepts and techniques of Earth Science research to prepare for their senior I.S., a capstone experience that challenges them to design and pursue a research project that makes an original intellectual contribution to the geosciences.
Because Earth Sciences are best learned by doing, majors often participate in extended field/lab work or a research program during the summer between their junior and senior years. In recent years, students have undertaken field studies in diverse places in the U.S. (Alaska, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Washington) and across the globe (Bahamas, Belize, British Columbia, Cyprus, Mongolia, Iceland, Israel, and western Europe). Our students have worked alongside researchers in labs at The Ohio State University, UNC Chapel Hill, UMass Amherst, and the American Museum of Natural History, among other institutions.
Earth Sciences majors have completed projects on paleoecology and bioerosion of oysters, kinematics of deformation bands, formation of submarine and subglacial pillow lavas, and dendrochronological reconstruction of glacial history in Alaska. Examples of recent environmental I.S. projects include PCBs in San Francisco Bay, sustainability of groundwater pumping at a wildlife refuge, and climate implications of permafrost carbon storage.
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There’s Something in the Water: An Analysis of of the Chemical Composition of the Sagamore, Killbuck Creek, and Upper Floridan Aquifer
Name: S. R. Troen Major: Environmental Geoscience Advisor: Dr. Shelley Judge Aquifers are commonly used as sources of fresh water but are very susceptible […]
Graduates in environmental geoscience from The College of Wooster have gone on to protect natural resources and improve environmental health as geoscientists at non-profit organizations, environmental consulting firms, and government agencies.
The Department of Earth Sciences is housed in Scovel Hall, one of Wooster’s most attractive buildings. Equipment available to earth sciences majors includes binocular and petrographic microscopes, a video system attached to a microscope, computers, photomicroscopes, zoom transfer stereoscope, fluid inclusion system, variable magnification scanning stereoscope, diamond saws and and rock grinding equipment, photography labs, thin-section machine, mapping projector, seismic station, and large sedimentological, paleontological and mineralogical collections. The earth sciences library holdings are unusally complete for a small college.
The paleontological facilities at Wooster include standard rock saws and grinders, along with Nikon microscopes, digitial imaging systems, and fossil preparation tools. We also have extensive research collections, particularly for carbonate hardgrounds, ancient bioerosion, Ordovician invertebrates, and Jurassic limestones and fossils.
Ohio is a wonderful place to pursue undergraduate research in sedimentology and stratigraphy through Wooster’s Independent Study program. The local rocks provide an excellent sample of Paleozoic paleoenvironments and rock types. Our equipment includes GPS devices, computers, digital imaging equipment, numerous Nikon petrographic and dissecting microscopes, and the standard rock preparation tools, such as saws, grinders, and thin-section machines.
Wooster Tree Ring Lab
Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the method of scientific dating based on the analysis of tree-ring growth patterns. The tree-rings extracted from old wood can be calendar-dated and thus we can determine the calendar date the tree was cut. The tree-ring series are also records of past drought. We are interested in sampling historical structures for their tree-ring records. Our goal is to assemble long tree-ring chronologies from oaks by sampling both living trees and old wood. The data will be used by us and others in modeling past droughts in Ohio and together with similar records across North America.
The acquisition of an X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF) and an X-ray Diffractometer (XRD) was funded by the National Science Foundation to support Wooster’s robust undergraduate research program. In addition to providing our students with valuable hands-on analytical experience, we hope that the instruments will foster creative collaborations and interdisciplinary research. Please explore this site to learn more about the instruments, who we are, and the research possibilities.