Classroom, Laboratory & Field
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the Department of Geosciences, we investigate the Earth in the broadest sense: how it formed, how it evolved and continues to evolve, how Earth systems interact to produce the environment in which we live, and how present and future changes may affect the habitability of Earth. The central goal of the department is to educate students about the nature and history of the Earth, the processes that shape the Earth, and the impacts those processes have on humans and other organisms.
An understanding of the Earth is an essential component of global citizenship. Humanity faces many critical environmental issues, including global climate change, water shortages, loss of arable land, natural hazards such as earthquakes and flooding, and the availability of petroleum and other energy resources. Citizens and professionals with training in the geosciences will contribute to addressing these and other problems, while increasing opportunities for humans to live sustainably on the Earth.
The department provides non-majors with a basic knowledge of the Earth and Earth processes that will serve their needs as future citizens and community leaders. Geoscience majors and minors develop a strong background in the geosciences in preparation for employment opportunities in fields such as environmental science (including consulting and engineering), geotechnical engineering, exploration for natural resources, geologic research, environmental law, and earth science teaching. Broadly speaking, we provide the tools to be successful in any field.
- Ohio Division of Geological Survey
- U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
- National Geographic Map Center
- Geological Society of America
- Volcano World
- Michigan Technological Volcanoes Page
- Oak Ridge Science Semester
- University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
- The University of Illinois-UC Atmospheric Sciences
- Climate Diagnostic Center (CDC)
- American Institute of Professional Geologists-Ohio Section