Geology majors are required to complete a senior research project under the direction of one of the faculty members, completing GEOL4501 (Introduction to Research) and GEOL451 (Senior Research). Completion of GEOL451 requires a written senior thesis and public presentation of results, typically at a Geological Society of America professional meeting. Student research projects vary with interest and funding.
Recent projects have included research in experimental petrology, paleontology, geomorphology, hydrogeology, geophysics, planetary geology, and glacial geology. Many students participate in National Science Foundation funded REU programs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) during the summer between junior and senior year. Recent students have traveled to Thailand, Sardinia, Alaska, Mongolia, Brazil, Iceland, and the Canary Islands with such programs.
Students can now earn a departmental distinction upon successful completion of both a superior senior research thesis, GEOL 451 (Senior Research), and the geology degree with a GPA >3.5 for all geology courses and the supporting science and mathematics courses that are required for the major. Their efforts are recognized, in part, by a plaque stating the following:
For excellence in scientific coursework and successful completion of a superior research project, Augustana College's Department of Geology has conferred the Departmental Distinction in Geology upon the following students: Anders E. Carlson, 2000; Melissa J. Stafford, 2000; Jessica P. Allewalt, 2001; Beth A. Johnson, 2001; Veronica E. McCann, 2001; Jessica J. Terrien, 2001; Stephanie R. Bluemle, 2002; Meghan M. O'Hearn, 2002; Monica Z. Bruckner, 2005; Erica L. Emry, 2005; John A. Mischler, 2005; Michael R. Sheehan, 2005; Adam Cosentino, 2006; Nicolo Casarta, 2008; Daniel Hadley, 2008; Rebecca Saunders, 2008; Brandon Melton, 2010; Henry Stauffenberg, IV 2010; Jeremy Hoffman, 2011; Spencer Hellert, 2012; Maren Mathisen, 2012; Diana Boudreau, 2014; Jordan Carey, 2014; Alexis McAdams, 2014; Matt Osman, 2014; Ryan Plath, 2015; Joey Romero, 2015; Mark Lundine, 2018; John E. Malone, 2018; Allison Pease, 2018; Joseph Teresi, 2018; Bethany Hobart, 2019; Matthew Harrington, 2019; Lukas Karuza, 2020, Joshua Malone, 2020; Allison Bandera, 2021; Joel Padgett, 2021; Cheyenne Bartelt, 2022; Abigail Clark, 2022; Spencer Napiwocki, 2022.