Earth and Environmental Sciences (ERTH)

Alumni Spotlight

Liz Brega, B.S. Environmental Science (2013)

After graduating from Chico State, Liz attended the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and received her M.S. in Environmental Health Sciences. Since graduating, Liz has worked for the State of California as an environmental scientist and air pollution specialist at several environmental agencies. Liz is currently a Senior Environmental Scientist (Supervisor) for the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and is responsible for implementing and overseeing the Hazardous Materials Business Plan program and the California Accidental Release Prevention program as well as overseeing 81 local jurisdictions implementing these programs. Liz works to prevent accidental releases of hazardous substances that can cause serious harm to the public and the environment and finds her position extremely rewarding. Her time at Chico State prepared her for her career through the mentorship she received from professors and mentorship gained while conducting her honors thesis in geoscience. In addition, the knowledge she gained through the various core classes that she took has been essential to her work now. "I never thought I would use chemistry in my career as much as I actually have, but I often find myself going back to foundational chemistry topics and applying it to the environmental work I do!".

Dennis Veich, B.S. Geology (2013)
Dennis Viech

Within two years of graduation, I landed a full-time, permanent position as Forest Geologist on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.  My “office” encompasses over 2.1 million acres and contains nearly every type of geology there is. It takes about five hours to drive from one side of the Forest (near Medicine Lake) to the other side (South Fork Ridge on Hwy 36). I also have the opportunity to work with experts from other scientific disciplines such as soil science, botany, silviculture, hydrology, entomology, aviation, wildlife biology, fire science and range management, just to name a few.

The education and training I earned in the Geological and Environmental Sciences Department has prepared me for just about everything I encounter on a daily basis.

Ellie Spangler, B.S. Geology (2008)
Ellie Spangler

After Chico, Ellie went to the University of Montana and received a M.S. in Geosciences. Ellie has spent her professional career working for various state geological surveys. She has worked in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, Arctic Alaska, and all over northern California providing support on a variety of engineering geology projects such as landslide studies, mapping, hazard assessments, and fault characterization studies. Ellie has a Professional Geologist licensure and works as an Engineering Geologist for the California Geological Survey, Seismic Hazards Program. She prepares seismic hazard zone maps and conducts various hazard studies. “Although she doesn’t get to do as much field work as she’d like, she loves working for the California Geological Survey and couldn't imagine working anywhere else.“

Cheryl Hayhurst, B.S. Geology (2002)
Cheryl Hayhurst
Cheryl joined the California Geological Survey (CGS) in 2010 as an Engineering Geologist and was promoted to Senior Engineering Geologist in 2019.  Cheryl works in the Forest and Watershed Geology Program evaluating timber harvest plans for geologic hazards including geomorphic indicators of landslide potential, erosion potential, and mineral hazards, as well as assessing proposed road and crossing construction methods and locations.  In addition to serving on the CSU Chico Geological and Environmental Sciences Department Advisory Committee, Cheryl has presented at various professional conferences and has led several public tours related to ongoing project work.  Prior to joining CGS, Cheryl was a consulting geologist for four years in the field of environmental geology, and spent two years performing detailed landslide mapping for a private timber company in northwestern California.  Cheryl has a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from CSU Chico, and a Master’s degree in Watershed Management from Humboldt State University.