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Augustana offers both a major in the environmental science of geology and a major in environmental studies, and many students choose to double major.


Geology departmental mission statement

Welcome to the Geology Department at Augustana College, where we unearth the secrets of our planet's dynamic past and present to shape a sustainable future. Our mission is to ignite a passion for understanding Earth’s dynamic environments through the exploration of geologic processes, materials and landscapes while considering the ways that humans (and other living organisms) shape – and are shaped by – these activities.

Empowering exploration

Engage in a transformative journey through immersive field experiences, hands-on examinations and participation in the research process. Discover the Earth's hidden wonders and unravel the complexities of its natural systems.

Igniting ingenuity

Nurture critical thinking and unleash creative problem-solving abilities, enabling you to tackle pressing environmental challenges. We believe that your innovative solutions will be the bedrock of a more sustainable future.

Communication and collaboration

Hone your ability to articulate scientific discoveries with clarity and precision. Collaborate with peers, professors, and communities, fostering a collaborative spirit essential for success in diverse, multidisciplinary careers.

Environmental focus

Dive deep into the heart of environmental understanding. Explore the vital intersection of geology and the environment, equipping you with the knowledge and skills needed to address urgent environmental ethics issues that impact our world today.

A path to success

Upon graduation, our geology majors are primed to embark on exciting careers in the Earth sciences, renewable energy, government agencies, industry, education, non-profits and beyond. The blend of practical experiences and academic rigor uniquely positions you for entry-level career opportunities and graduate programs in the Earth and environmental sciences.


  • 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 Lucken Geology Scholarship was established by John E. and Mary Thorson Lucken, both 1962 Augustana graduates, in recognition of their Augustana education. The scholarship provides recognition and financial assistance, up to $8,000 ($2,000 per year), to full-time students who major in the environmental science of geology. 
  • 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.
  • The on-campus Fryxell Geology Museum collection, one of the largest in the Midwest, includes more than 20,000 rock, mineral and fossil specimens, with 1,500 on display.
  • The Udden Geology Club meets weekly for informal presentations and discussions on a range of topics to help develop student interest in the broader geosciences. Presentations are typically given by faculty and students. Alumni also come to talk about their research, careers or graduate school experiences.

Paid internships

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

  • Paleontological research internship at the Judith River Dinosaur Institute, Billings, Mont.
  • Internship with the geotechnical branch of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Rock Island, Ill.
  • Research using drones to map beach morphology at the University of Delaware.
  • Research using diamond anvils to conduct ultra-high pressure mineral geophysics experiments at the Carnegie's Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments Center.
  • Internship with the Illinois State Geological Survey to study the paleoclimate and paleoenvironment of southwest Illinois.
  • Research on sea-level change of the east coast of North America at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, N.Y.
  • 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

  • Mari Kelley '23 is a  pursuing a master's in Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies at Binghamton University, N.Y.
  • Kyle Sadowski '23 is a hydrologic technician with the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Center in Illinois.
  • Cheyenne Bartelt '22 is a cartographic technician assistant for the U.S Forest Service.
  • Meghan Carr '22 is an environmental inspector for the Rock Island County (Ill.) Health Department.
  • Abigail Clark '22 is pursuing a master's in earth and environmental sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • Spencer Napiwocki '22 is staff geologist with Geosyntec Consultants in Oak Brook, IL.
  • Audrianna Schneider '22 is a technician at John Deere in the X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry lab.
  • Isabelle Seten '22 is a hydrogeologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Center.
  • Allison Bandera '21 is pursuing an environmental law degree from Marquette Law School, Wis.
  • Carson Cerquone '21 is an environmental consultant at Geomatrix Consultants in Missoula, Mont.
  • Sydney Drier '21 is an intern at the Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri.
  • Autumn Peele '21 is an assistant preparator in paleontology at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
  • Joel Padgett '21 is pursuing a Ph.D. in geology at the University of Calgary, Canada.
  • Quinn Powers '21 is science educator at Champaign County Forest Preserve, Ill.
  • Thomas Stritch '21 is a wetlands geologist for the Illinois State Geological Survey Prairie Research Institute.
  • Shah Ali '20 is a GIS field technician with Commonwealth Edison in Rockford, Ill.
  • Lukas Karuza '20 is pursuing graduate certification through the Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad, Calif.
  • Joshua Malone '20 is pursuing a Ph.D. in geology at the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences, Austin, Texas.
  • Michael Sell '20 is pursuing a master's in hydrogeology at Illinois State University and is the head teaching assistant.
  • Adam Borgetti '19 is a an advisor and analyst with Aptus Exchange in Chicago. 
  • Matt Harrington '19 completed a master's in paleoecology at East Tennessee State University and is a scientist with the Alaskan National Parklands.
  • Bethany Hobart '19 is pursuing a Ph.D. in paleoclimatology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • Lauren Judge '19 is pursuing a Ph.D. at The University of New Mexico.
  • Sierra Kindley '19 completed a master's in environmental management at Duke University and is a staff geologist with The Riley Group, an environmental firm in Bothell, Wash.
  • Joshua Pearson '19 is a field data specialist with ID Plans in Connecticut.
  • Caitlin Lebel '18 completed a master's in paleoecology at the University of Florida-Gainesville and is a regional outreach and volunteer recruitment member at the Florida Conservation Corps.
  • Sarah Oswald '18 is a staff scientist with BBJ Group, Chicago, Ill.
  • Jack Malone '18 completed a master's in geology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and is a geotechnical engineer with Brierley Associates in Laramie, Wyo.
  • Allison Pease '18 is pursuing a Ph.D. in experimental petrology at Michigan State University.
  • Joey Teresi '18 is a staff scientist with the environmental consulting and engineering firm ATC Group in Seattle, Wash.
  • Mark Lundine '18 is pursuing a graduate degree in oceanography with the University of Delaware.
  • Robert Martin ’17 is a staff geologist with Roux, an environmental consulting and management firm, in Houston, Texas.
  • Jessa Rizzo ’17 is a staff gemologist in colored stones with the Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad, Calif.  
  • Jacob Piske ’17 completed a master's in hydrogeology at Illinois State University and is a staff scientist with Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. outside of Chicago.
  • Laura Behymer '16 is a staff technician with the State of Vermont's transportation agency.
  • Kati Ponder '16 is a geologist with the Bureau of Land Management in Carlsbad, N.M.
  • Laura Ames '16 completed a master's in environmental science at the University of Illinois, Springfield, and is a water chemist for the city of Chicago.
  • Evan Blodgett '15 is a staff geologist for the geotechnical engineering firm Chosen Valley Testing in Rochester, Minn.
  • Cody Johnson '15 is a restoration manager for Resource Environmental Solutions LLC in Dubuque, Iowa.
  • Kevin Gosiewski '15 is a field technician for the environmental consulting firm Mostardi Platt in Elmhurst, Ill.
  • Ryan Plath '15 is an environmental consultant with ERM: Environmental Resources Management.
  • Joey Romero '15 is a learning facilitator at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
  • Brian Trausch '15 is a field technician for Schmidt Land Surveying, Inc. in Silverthrone, Colo.
  • Diana Boudreau '14 completed a master's at Marshall University and is a paleontologist at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.
  • Jordan Carey '14 is pursuing a master's in fluvial geomorphology at University of California, Davis.
  • Lauren Kirik '14 is a geologist with the independent energy company Apache Corporation in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Brian Konecke '14 completed a Ph.D. in geochemistry/economic geology at the University of Michigan and is a senior geologist with Fathom Geophysics.
  • Alexis McAdams '14 is an associate analyst with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
  • Matt Osman '14 completed a Ph.D. in glaciology/climatology at the MIT and is a postdoctoral research associate at the Climate Systems Center, University of Arizona.
  • Elizabeth Fisher '13 is a geology consultant at WSP USA, a civil engineering company.
  • Randy Lightfoot '13 is a gemologist and appraiser for Christopher's Fine Jewelry and Rare Coins, Ltd. in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Carl Peters '13 is a staff scientist and project manager at the environmental services company BBJ Group, Chicago.
  • Maren Mathisen '12 received a master's in geology at the Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, and is a consulting geologist with Viking GeoScience, Ltd.
Joel Padgett
More Than I Imagined  Joel Padgett
“I’ll be forever grateful to Dr. Strasser, Dr. Wolf, Dr. Kelsey Arkle, Susan Wolf and Jen Milner in the geology department for their academic and emotional support.”
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Allison Bandera
More Than I Imagined Allison Bandera
“I found a love for the environment in my geology major and knew that approaching law school from this background would have a tremendous benefit in studying environmental law.”
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Matt Harrington
More Than I Imagined Matt Harrington
“The entire geology department has been there to help me at every step during my time here.”
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John Deere Planetarium

Planetarium and geology museum to host open house on May 11

Augustana College's John Deere Planetarium and Fryxell Geology Museum will be open to the public on Saturday, May 11, 2024, for an evening of stargazing and space shows. The planetarium, located at 820 38th Street, Rock Island, will be open from 8:30-10 p.m., with indoor and outdoor programs in the planetarium, observatory and geology museum.

Holden Village students posing for a photo before heading to the village.

Five years of Augustana’s January Term

Augustana College students take a break from their 15-week semester schedule to engage in a month-long period of intensive learning during January Term, or J-term. This three-and-a-half week course was added as part of the college’s transition to semesters in 2019-2020.

Makayla Thumb

Unearthing students' love for geology

Four Augustana students have hit the ground running with their summer geology internships. Projects include studying the formation and evolution of ancient mountain belts, paleontology research, studying geological maps in zinc mines and installing seismometers for earthquake detection.