Geological and Environmental Sciences

Chair's Message

Welcome to the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at CSU Chico!

GEOS Department ChairOur unique program combines expertise in both geology and environmental science to provide an experience that uses scientific principles to understand Earth processes.  ‘Environmental Sciences’ encompasses a broad field of study that looks at the complex interactions of water, air, soil and life, and how those interactions both affect and are affected by human activity.

The faculty have diverse backgrounds in fields ranging from volcanology to mine reclamation, deep sea sediments to environmental chemistry, atmospheric physics to mining, structural geology to landform development, and wetland restoration to geobiology.  This breadth leads to collaborations across campus, such as with Biology, Chemistry, Agriculture, Engineering, and Physics.

One of the hallmarks of our department is the strong commitment to undergraduate research.  All of our faculty engage with undergraduates and many opportunities exist to join research projects either locally or abroad and in the field or in the lab.  Recent projects have involved work at Lassen Volcanic National Park, copper mines in Nevada, laboratories in France, and research in Hawaii.  Many of our students go on to present their research findings at major national and international meetings.

The department also boasts a graduate program leading to traditional M.S. degrees in Geoscience or Environmental Science as well as a ‘Professional Science Masters’ degree for the working professional.  Recent theses and projects include revised geological mapping of Black Butte Lake, assessing the viability of energy storage of independent systems, and pollutants related to overland flow at closed gold mines.

The B.S. degrees prepares students for careers or graduate education in fields such as economic and environmental geology, wildlife management, air and water protection, energy grid analysis, and soil conservation.  Employers consistently praise our program for how well our students are prepared with a strong science background to march right into the workforce.  Recent graduates have found employment with companies such as Lettis and Associates and EDF Renewable Services and government agencies (California Geological Survey and the U.S. Forest Service).  In the past few years, students have gone on to continue their graduate studies at the University of New Hampshire, Yale University, Idaho State University, Colorado School of Mines, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Nevada among other institutions.

Together, it is clear that the focus of our department is preparing students to tackle the pressing challenges of using Earth’s resources in a sustainable fashion.  Climate change, increasing populations, and decreasing water supplies will require well-educated scientists in the north state.  The program at CSU Chico strongly emphasizes the scientific background needed to address these challenges.  We take our role very seriously and welcome all students who wish to be leaders the future of geological and environmental sciences.

–Russell Shapiro, Ph.D., Department Chair