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Graduate Program in Geology

The Department of Geology offers a focused program at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels. Our graduate programs are unique in Ohio in emphasizing the applied aspects of geology. We are the only Geology Department in Ohio, and one of few in the nation, that offers the Ph.D. in Applied Geology. Our Engineering and Environmental Geology program is one of the best in the nation and its graduates command outstanding positions in industry. Our program in the area of Paleoenvironments and Evolution has established an international reputation as a leader in the study of environmental change and evolution. Graduates of this research area are employed in the environmental and petroleum industries as well as in basic research and education. A distinctive feature of our program is a 100% employment record for all of our graduates, many of whom are hired in industry or government prior to graduation.

Public Good
Graduate training in Geology continues to be a critical need as we face growing crises stemming from petroleum depletion, the need for alternate energy sources, urban hydrology pollution, coastline modification and destruction, and changes in the distribution and frequency of rainfall and resultant drought or flooding due to climate change. Our department has an exceptional record in preparing students to enter the broad area of environmental and natural resource studies, both which address critical societal needs. Alumni Marty Schmidt’s involvement in the Fields Brook Superfund site cleanup is an excellent example of this. Fields Brook is a six square-mile watershed of a brook where, from 1940 to the present, up to 19 separate facilities operated. Fields Brook flows into the Ashtabula River, which flows into Lake Erie about 1.5 miles downstream of the site. Sediments within Fields Brook, and soils on the Fields Brook floodplain/wetlands area, are contaminated with a wide variety of contaminants including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated solvents and metals. Approximately 23,000 people live within one mile of the site, in the city of Ashtabula.

Graduate training provides a solid understanding and knowledge base for making decisions about environmental protection, land-use development, regulation of petroleum and mineral extraction, groundwater usage and development, mitigation of natural hazards, and natural resource exploration. Our graduates find employment in industry, research laboratories, government agencies, universities, and many form their own geological consulting companies. Some have contributed to the continued public education. For example, alumni Laura Sanders textbook "A manual of field hydrogeology" does an excellent job explaining methods and applications of investigating groundwater, surface water and their interaction. The text is an invaluable tool for use in the field and it has been published small enough that it can be easily toted into the field. Her book is a great reference tool for scientists and other researchers in the field of hydrogeology. Alumni Loren Babcock has authored more than 125 scientific articles, and authored or edited seven books including the widely acclaimed textbook Visualizing Earth History.

Spotlight on Alumni
Dr. Loren Babcock (KSU Geology MS, 1986)
Loren Babcock is a Professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University. His research focuses principally on the early history of multicellular animals (notably trilobites); biotic changes across the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition; Cambrian global chronostratigraphy; processes of fossilization; and various topics in evolutionary paleobiology such as the role of predation in evolution, and the evolutionary history of biologic asymmetry. Prof. Babcock is the recipient of numerous awards including the Charles Schuchert Award for Excellence and Promise in Paleontology and the Erasmus Haworth Award for Distinguished Alumni Honors in Geology from the University of Kansas. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and The Paleontological Society, and currently serves as Secretary of the International Subcommission on Cambrian Stratigraphy

Mr. Larry Wickstrom (KSU Geology MS, 1982)
Larry H. Wickstrom is State Geologist and Division Chief of the Ohio Geological Survey. Since his initial employment with the OGS in 1983, he has performed many geologic investigations that have led to over 35 publications and numerous speaking engagements before professional groups. He has also served as supervisor of the Energy Resources Group at the Ohio Geological Survey since 1996. In this role he oversees research on the state's subsurface geologic framework, oil, gas and coal bearing strata, permit reviews and geologic investigations on Class I (hazardous and industrial waste) injection sites, geologic CO2 sequestration, abandoned underground mines, and coal-bed methane. Larry has also served as the Survey's information technology coordinator, directing projects on conversion to digital format, digital mapping, and development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Larry has been principal investigator and/or project manager on many research grants from the U.S. DOE, USGS, U.S. EPA, industry consortia, etc. He is very active in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) for whom he is a speaker in the Visiting Geologists Program, past Advisory Council Representative, and a past president of the Eastern Section of the AAPG. He is also a past president of the Ohio Geological Society.

Dr. Martin Schmidt (KSU Ph.D. Applied Geology, 1975)
Marty Schmidt is Director of Environmental Remediation and Vice-President for the URS Corporation, one of the largest international environmental geoscience firms in the world. With over 30 years of industry experience, he has a long and distinguished professional record in environmental science, engineering geology and groundwater remediation. Situated in Northeast Ohio, Marty has overseen environmental remediation projects on major sites in Brazil and North America.  As a principal of URS, Marty oversaw the remediation of the Fields Brook Superfund site, in Ashtabula, Ohio, which has become a model of successful remediation techniques.  Dr. Schmidt has taught applied courses at Cleveland State, John Carroll, and Kent State Universities.

Dr. Laura L. Sanders (KSU Ph.D. Applied Geology, 1986)
Laura Sanders is Professor of Earth Science at Northeastern Illinois University teaching courses in Hydrology, Hydrogeology, and Geotechnical Engineering.   She is a recognized expert in her field and has made major contributions to education and instruction.   In 1998 she authored A Manual of Field Hydrogeology (Prentice Hall) designed to bridge the gap between books on the theoretical principles of hydrogeology and professional applications-oriented publications. This textbook provides readers with "hands-on" practice in hydrogeologic field methods and activities and is used throughout the country.   Laura has served as the chair of the Department at Northeastern Illinois and was a leader in increasing the diversity of students in the sciences.

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