The Geosciences program at Denison provides a comprehensive geoscience undergraduate education through the combination of classroom, laboratory and field experiences. Our small upper division classes (average 10 students) promote close faculty-student cooperation and a sense of camaraderie. Students gain a strong sense of real-world geology, earth resources and land use through frequent field trips.
We offer a bachelor of science (B.S.)degree for students planning to seek graduate degrees in geology and allied environmental sciences; many of our Alumni have continued their studies at leading graduate institutions. A summer field course is required for the bachelor of science degree. The bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree, with fewer outside science requirements than the B.S., allows for greater flexibility in course selection in preparing for employment in secondary education and in diverse environmental science and resource management fields. For details of our degree requirements, see the Geosciences Curriculum.
The expertise of our Faculty provides an optimal blend of strengths in traditional core areas of the geosciences:
- Earth materials- mineralogy and petrology
- Earth dynamics- structural geology and tectonics
- Earth history- paleontology and sedimentary environments
- Earth surface processes- geomorphology, climatology and soil
The faculty also has a strong interest in the environmental sciences and plays a key
role in the Environmental Studies Program at Denison. The complex and crucial issues concerning energy, water, material resources and environmental quality are central to many courses in the Geosciences curriculum. The department helps students develop both the scientific background and the breadth of understanding necessary to contribute significantly to fields such as energy resources, groundwater, land use planning and waste management.
Research opportunities include working with faculty on field and laboratory projects, involvement with the Oak Ridge Science Semester, and a variety of summer internships; see Student Opportunities for details. Departmental research equipment includes petrographic and binocular microscopes, a computer cluster with a variety of geologic and geographic software, a digitizer, a color plotter, a Scintag X-ray diffraction system, and basic soil and water chemistry laboratory facilities; see Facilities for details. Geoscience majors have access to a variety of additional analytical equipment including a scanning electron microscope and a Giddings trailer-mounted power auger and probe for shallow drilling and sampling. Our extensive mineral, rock, fossil and map collections enhance both teaching and research.
Faculty-student interaction is central to majoring in the geosciences at Denison. The department is small and tightly knit with frequent opportunities for faculty and students to exchange ideas both formally and informally. Much learning goes on outside the classroom through faculty-student collaboration in the lab and in the field. In addition to local trips required in most upper level courses, there are extended weekend Field Trips for all majors each semester, in which the department examines areas such as the Adirondacks, the Canadian Shield in western Ontario, the Appalachian Mountains, and the Outer Banks of the Carolinas. In some years we travel as far afield as Death Valley and the Sierra in California, West Texas and New Mexico, the Maine coast, Costa Rica or Cuba, sometimes during spring break or as a May term program.
Various opportunities exist for geoscience majors to develop leadership skills and receive stipends.Majors within the department can extend and enrich their knowledge by working as laboratory assistants in the introductory and middle level courses, and earn a stipend in the process. Students are named as Senior Fellows on the basis of academic achievement, service to the department and leadership ability; Fellowship includes a stipend. The summer research of many geoscience majors is supported financially by Anderson Grants awarded by the Denison Undergraduate Research Foundation.