Geoscience

Major: Geoscience
Degree Awarded: Bachelor of Science (BS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 185.0 - 189.0
Co-op Options: Three Co-op (Five years)
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 40.0601
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 11-9121; 19-2042

About the Program

From energy to climate change to environmental degradation, many of the most pressing societal issues of the coming century will pertain to geoscience. The study of the Earth is central to maintaining clean drinking water, mitigating environmental contamination, providing ores and rare elements necessary for industry, and locating new sources of energy.

The Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) Department offers a major in geoscience, with three concentration options designed to meet the needs of students wishing to pursue graduate school or immediate employment in the geosciences:

  • Applied Geology
  • General Geoscience
  • Paleontology

The core requirements encompass foundational courses in science, writing, and math, and traditional courses that form the backbone of the geosciences. Building upon these are innovative courses focused on Earth systems processes, key environmental issues, practical field experiences, and advanced geological study.

In addition to nourishing and honing the passions of students studying the Earth, the core curriculum is designed to:

  1. Instill key technical skills early-on, as a pathway to high-quality co-op opportunities;
  2. Lay the groundwork for our students to pursue advanced graduate study in the geosciences and other disciplines, and;
  3. Enable our graduates to translate marketable skills and knowledge into high-quality jobs in industry and government.

Geoscience majors will begin their field experiences during the first term of their freshmen year. Most courses include a laboratory section or a hands-on recitation section (“dry lab”), plus at least three field trips to relevant regional geological sites. These courses, combined with the co-op experience and summer geological field camp, provide students real-world experience in the field.

About the Concentrations

Applied Geology

The applied geology concentration is designed for students wishing to enter the geoscience workforce upon graduation. Possible employment opportunities include jobs in: environmental consulting, geotechnical consulting, geophysical consulting, the petroleum and natural gas industry, the mining industry, federal agencies (e.g., USGS, USDA, NOAA, FEMA, EPA, DOI, and Army Corps of Engineers), and state and local agencies (e.g., state environmental agencies, state geological surveys, and municipal water departments).

General Geoscience

The general geoscience concentration allows maximum flexibility and is designed for students wishing to pursue other areas of study within the geosciences, students wishing to pursue policy-related careers, and students planning to apply to professional graduate programs, such as those in law or business schools. The policy component of this concentration allows students to explore related societal issues, which may help guide their career aspirations. This concentration also provides transfer students with a pathway to graduate on time.

Students graduating from this concentration will be well prepared to enter graduate school in science or policy, as well as to pursue professional studies. Students seeking immediate employment will be competitive for jobs with, for example, certain NGOs, environmental foundations, consulting companies, and government policy positions related to natural resources and the environment.

Paleontology

The concentration in paleontology prepares students who are interested in pursuing related research in graduate school and students seeking entry-level positions in paleontology. Examples of these jobs include biostratigrapher for petroleum companies, fossil resource manager for the Bureau of Land Management, and related positions with the National Parks Service, USGS, and state geological surveys.
Undergraduates in this concentration benefit from world-class resources already established at the Academy of Natural Sciences. These include the Invertebrate paleontology collection, with over 1 million specimens; the vertebrate fossil collection, with over 22,000 specimens; historically important specimens, such as the Thomas Jefferson fossil collection, the first discovered dinosaur skeleton, and the first discovered tyrannosaur; and the paleobotany collection, with over 5,000 specimens, including a large proportion of type specimens.

Students in the paleontology concentration will have access to numerous fossil sites along the Atlantic Coastal Plain and in the Appalachian Province. Opportunities exist for student research at two well-established sites: Dr. Daeschler’s Red Hill site, which produces evolutionarily important forms representing the fish to tetrapod transition; and Dr. Lacovara’s Inversand site, which records a mass-death assemblage at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

Additional Information

For additional information about this program, visit the Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) Department website.

 Degree Requirements

General Education Requirements
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
COM 230Techniques of Speaking3.0
COM 310 [WI] Technical Communication3.0
ENGL 101Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research3.0
ENGL 102Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing3.0
ENGL 103Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres3.0
PHIL 251Ethics3.0
or PHIL 341 Philosophy of the Environment
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
UNIV S201Looking Forward: Academics and Careers1.0
Humanities or Social Science electives6.0
Free electives24.0
Mathematics and Statistics
Choose one of the following math sequences:12.0
Introduction to Analysis I
and Introduction to Analysis II
and Mathematics for the Life Sciences
Calculus I
and Calculus II
and Calculus III
MATH 410Scientific Data Analysis I3.0
MATH 411Scientific Data Analysis II3.0
Physical Sciences
CHEM 101General Chemistry I3.5
CHEM 102General Chemistry II4.5
CHEM 103General Chemistry III5.0
Complete one of the following Physics sequences:8.0
Fundamentals of Physics I
and Fundamentals of Physics II
Introductory Physics I
and Introductory Physics II
Complete one of the following Biological Sciences sequences:8.0-9.0
Cells, Genetics & Physiology
and Cells, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory
and Biological Diversity, Ecology & Evolution
and Biological Diversity, Ecology and Evolution Laboratory
Evolution & Organismal Diversity
and Physiology and Ecology
Environmental Science
ENVS 101Introduction to Environmental Science5.0
ENVS 102Natural History, Research and Collections2.0
ENVS 212Evolution4.0
ENVS 441 [WI] Issues in Global Change I: Seminar2.0
ENVS 442Issues in Global Change II: Research2.0
ENVS 443Issues in Global Change III: Synthesis2.0
Geoscience Core Courses
GEO 101Physical Geology4.0
GEO 102History of the Earth4.0
GEO 103Introduction to Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
GEO 201 [WI] Earth Systems Processes3.0
GEO 210Structural Geology4.0
GEO 215Mineralogy4.0
GEO 301Advanced Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
GEO 310Sedimentary Environments4.0
GEO 311Stratigraphy4.0
GEO 320Invertebrate Paleontology4.0
GEO 401Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology4.0
Geology Field Camp3.0
GEO Electives *8.0
Geoscience Concentration Courses20.0-23.0
Applied Geology Concentration
GIS and Environmental Modeling
Environmental Geology
Geochemistry
Geology of Groundwater
Geophysics
General Geoscience Concentration
See the Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) Department for the General Geoscience Concentration course list.
Paleontology Concentration
Tree of Life
Vertebrate Paleontology
Field Methods in Paleoecology
Paleontology elective *
Choose one of the following:
Form, Function & Evolution of Vertebrates
and Vertebrate Biology and Evolution Laboratory
Invertebrate Morphology and Physiology
and Invertebrate Morphology and Physiology Lab
Total Credits185.0-189.0
*

 See the Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) for the GEO Core and Paleo elective list.


Sample Plan of Study

The sample plan of study is a general guideline that can be used for each of the three concentrations, depending on course selections in certain terms.

Term 1Credits
ENGL 101Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research3.0
ENVS 101Introduction to Environmental Science5.0
GEO 101Physical Geology4.0
MATH 101
or 121
Introduction to Analysis I
Calculus I
4.0
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
 Term Credits17.0
Term 2
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
ENGL 102Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing3.0
GEO 102History of the Earth4.0
MATH 102
or 122
Introduction to Analysis II
Calculus II
4.0
Choose to start CHEM or BIO sequence depending on concentration. Paleo students should take BIO 124 & BIO 126. Students interested in applied or geochemistry should start CHEM. 
CHEM 101
or BIO 124
General Chemistry I
Evolution & Organismal Diversity
3.5
 Term Credits15.5
Term 3
CHEM 102
or BIO 126
General Chemistry II
Physiology and Ecology
4.5
ENGL 103Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres3.0
ENVS 102Natural History, Research and Collections2.0
GEO 103Introduction to Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
MATH 239
or 123
Mathematics for the Life Sciences
Calculus III
4.0
 Term Credits15.5
Term 4
CHEM 103
or 101
General Chemistry III
General Chemistry I
5.0
ENVS 212Evolution4.0
GEO 310Sedimentary Environments4.0
GEO 301Advanced Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
 Term Credits15.0
Term 5
GEO 201 [WI] Earth Systems Processes3.0
GEO 215Mineralogy4.0
Choose one of the following two options, based on chosen concentration:4.0
4-credit GEO concentration course
 
2-credit GEO concentration (Paleo) course and a 3-credit free elective
 
BIO 109
or CHEM 102
Biological Diversity, Ecology & Evolution
General Chemistry II
3.0
BIO 110
or CHEM 102
Biological Diversity, Ecology and Evolution Laboratory
General Chemistry II
1.0
 Term Credits15.0
Term 6
BIO 107
or CHEM 103
Cells, Genetics & Physiology
General Chemistry III
3.0
BIO 108
or CHEM 103
Cells, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory
General Chemistry III
1.0
COM 230Techniques of Speaking3.0
GEO 401Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology4.0
PHYS 152
or 101
Introductory Physics I
Fundamentals of Physics I
4.0
 Term Credits15.0
Term 7
COM 310 [WI] Technical Communication3.0
GEO 210Structural Geology4.0
PHYS 153
or 102
Introductory Physics II
Fundamentals of Physics II
4.0
UNIV S201Looking Forward: Academics and Careers1.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits15.0
Term 8
GEO 311Stratigraphy4.0
MATH 410Scientific Data Analysis I3.0
PHIL 251
or 341
Ethics
Philosophy of the Environment
3.0
GEO Concentration elective4.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits17.0
Term 9
MATH 411Scientific Data Analysis II3.0
GEO Concentration courses8.0
Free elective3.0
NOTE: STUDENTS DO FIELD CAMP DURING CO-OP IN THE JUNIOR YEAR. REGISTER FOR THESE 3 CREDITS DURING CO-OP. PLEASE SEE YOUR ADVISOR FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.3.0
 Term Credits17.0
Term 10
ENVS 441 [WI] Issues in Global Change I: Seminar2.0
GEO 320Invertebrate Paleontology4.0
GEO elective4.0
Humanities or Social Science elective3.0
Free Elective3.0
 Term Credits16.0
Term 11
ENVS 442Issues in Global Change II: Research2.0
GEO concentration elective4.0
Humanities or Social Science elective3.0
Free elective6.0
 Term Credits15.0
Term 12
ENVS 443Issues in Global Change III: Synthesis2.0
Free electives7.0
GEO elective4.0
 Term Credits13.0
Total Credit: 186.0
NOTE:

 Students do field camp (3-6 wks) during co-op in the junior year.  Register for 3 credits during co-op.  Do not register for the extra three credits in term 9.


Minor in Geoscience

Geosciences are at the core of numerous problems facing the world today, and impact the lives of communities across the planet. Climate change, natural disasters, access to mineral resources and clean water, and availability of energy all shape government policies and corporate strategies, and are a cause of concern for society at large.

The geoscience minor is designed to give students specializing in other fields the skills to understand and analyze these issues. It is a natural fit for environmental science majors who wish to understand how the physical world can impact biodiversity, ecological processes and environmental impacts. For students majoring in such fields as business and engineering, the minor in geoscience will provide them with the tools to make better decisions about products or projects related to natural hazards and their impact, cost and availability of natural resources, energy policy, space exploration, land use, and environmental justice. For students who are liberal arts majors, the minor in geoscience offers the opportunity to explore earth science issues that shape the social, cultural, political and scientific debate, and to be prepared for issues they may encounter in their careers.

GEO 101Physical Geology4.0
GEO 102History of the Earth4.0
GEO Electives16.0
Introduction to Field Methods in Earth Science
Earth Systems Processes
Dinosaurs and Their World
Structural Geology
Mineralogy
Advanced Field Methods in Earth Science
Environmental Geology
Geochemistry
Sedimentary Environments
Stratigraphy
Invertebrate Paleontology
Vertebrate Paleontology
Quaternary Geology
Geomorphology
Coastal Geology
Oceanography
Field Methods in Paleoecology
Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
Geology of Groundwater
Geophysics
Volcanology
Total Credits24.0

Co-Op/Career Opportunities

Co-Op Opportunities

There are over one hundred environmental, geophysical, and geotechnical firms within the greater Philadelphia region. Plus, there are opportunities with federal, state, and municipal agencies, jobs in central Pennsylvania related to the Marcellus Shale, and research opportunities between Drexel and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

All geoscience majors follow the five-year, three co-op plan of study program. Transfer students may be granted an exception for a two co-op plan of study, so that they may remain on schedule. The summer geological field camp will occur during the third co-op cycle. In this third co-op, geoscience students attend field camp and also partake in an abbreviated co-op work experience.

Career Opportunities

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for geoscientists through 2020 is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. In addition, the geosciences are expected to outpace life, physical, and social sciences in job creation. The employment outlook for geoscientists in Drexel's surrounding area is particularly bright, with a robust environmental consulting industry and exploding demand related to Marcellus Shale drilling.

The geoscience major, with its three concentrations, prepares students who are interested in entering the workforce immediately as well as those who are interested in pursuing related research in graduate schools.

Facilities and Field Sites

Facilities

The geoscience major leverages resources at Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences, such as a mineral collection with 9,000 specimens, over a million fossil specimens, Dinosaur Hall, The Patrick Center for Environmental Research, a state-of-the-art fossil preparation lab, notable research programs, and faculty with expertise in geology, paleontology, and related disciplines.

Summer Geological Field Camp

Summer geological field camp is the quintessential undergraduate experience for geosciences students. It is a long-held tradition in geology departments that students head out West, during the summer before graduation, to apply their knowledge to real-world situations and to acquire field skills that will serve them throughout their careers. This is particularly important for students in eastern schools, where the mountains are small and outcrops are scarce. Field camp also provides networking and bonding opportunity for students. Friends made at field camp often become colleagues for life. At the Geological Society of America meeting, reunions are organized by university and by field camp.

The summer geological field camp for geoscience students will occur during the third co-op cycle.

Barnegat Bay Coastal Field Station

The BEES field station on Barnegat Bay in Waretown, NJ provides geoscience students with opportunities to engage in hands-on research in coastal geology, barrier island morphology, oceanography, and sedimentology. The facility includes a lodge, two classrooms/meeting rooms, dining hall, dormitories, and rustic cabins. The field station is located on 194 acres of diverse coastal habitat, including a maritime forest, tidal creek, salt marsh, fresh water pond, brackish impoundment, and bayshore environments. The department’s research vessel gives students access to back-bay and near-shore marine environments. 

The department holds its introductory field session for incoming freshmen and other events at the field station. The facility may also serve as a base for excursions into the Pine Barrens, a heavily forested area containing a number of interesting deposits related to the last glacial period.

Red Hill Fossil Site

The Red Hill fossil site, in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, exposes Devonian coastal sedimentary rocks that preserve a rich fossil fauna. Of particular importance is a fossil fish species, studied by Dr. Ted Daeschler, representing a critical transition between fish and tetrapods (land animals.) This site offers opportunities for studying vertebrate paleontology, stratigraphy, and sedimentology and provides students with a window into an important moment in the history of life on Earth.

 Inversand Fossil Site: Local training ground for Geoscience Majors

The Inversand fossil site is a unique resource for geological education, research, and STEM outreach. The quarry is located in Gloucester Country, NJ, only 20 minutes from Drexel’s campus, making it possible to conduct field exercises there within a three-hour class period. The geological formations that outcrop in the Inversand Quarry have yielded many new fossil species. The site has significance beyond vertebrate paleontology, however, and will provide a local laboratory for classes in geochemistry, geophysics, stratigraphy, sedimentology, hydrogeology, and environmental geology. As such, it will provide a valuable training-ground, a short distance from campus, for all Drexel geoscience majors.

Geoscience Faculty

Walter F. Bien, PhD (Drexel University) Director, Laboratory of Pinelands Research. Research Professor. Natural resource management, restoration ecology, conservation biology, and New Jersey Pinelands community dynamics.
Elizabeth Burke Watson, PhD (University of California, Berkeley). Assistant Professor. The implications of global and regional environmental change, and unraveling the interacting effects of multiple anthropogenic stressors on coastal ecosystems to promote more informed management, conservation, and restoration.
Donald F. Charles, PhD (Indiana University) Senior Scientist and Section Leader, Phycology Section, Academy of Natural Sciences. Professor. Diatoms as water quality indicators; paleolimnological approaches for inferring change in biology and chemistry of lakes; lake management; assessment of perturbations in aquatic ecosystems due to municipal and industrial effluents, land-use change, acid deposition, eutrophication and climate change.
Carol Collier, FAICP, MRP (University of Pennsylvania) Sr. Advisor, Watershed Management and Policy at the Academy of Natural Sciences; Director, Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program.. Water resources management, environmental planning, climate change policy, the intersection of science, policy and decision making.
Ted Daeschler, PhD (University of Pennsylvania) Associate Curator of Vertebrate Zoology; Vice President for Systematic Biology and the Library: Academy of Natural Sciences. Associate Professor. Vertebrate fauna of the Late Devonian Period in eastern North America; fossil collecting; systematic work focusing on freshwater vertebrates; nature of early non-marine ecosystems.
Daniel P. Duran, PhD (Vanderbilt University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Phylogeography, systematics and taxonomy, population and conservation genetics, ecological niche modeling, focusing on insect systems to better understand fundamental evolutionary processes and maintain biodiversity.
Jon Gelhaus, PhD (University of Kansas) Curator, Department of Entomology: Academy of Natural Sciences. Professor. Systematic expertise in crane flies (Tipuloidea); phylogenetic reconstruction; historical and ecological biogeography; biodiversity measures and evolution of morphological character systems.
Richard J. Horwitz, PhD (University of Chicago) Senior Scientist; Fisheries Section Leader; Ruth Patrick Chair of Environmental Sciences. Associate Professor. Reproductive ecology, life history and distribution of freshwater fishes; effects of land use, habitat structure and hydrology on population dynamics and species composition in aquatic systems; ecological modeling and biometry; anthropogenic contaminants in fishes.
Susan S. Kilham, PhD (Duke University). Professor. Aquatic ecology: phytoplankton; physiological ecology, especially of diatoms in freshwater and marine systems; large lakes; food webs; biogeochemistry.
Danielle Kreeger, PhD (Oregon State University). Research Associate Professor. Trophic interactions in aquatic ecosystems.
Tatyana Livshultz, PhD (Cornell University) Assistant Curator of Botany. Assistant Professor. Expertise of the milkweed and dogbane family (Apocynaceae); evolution and species diversity of the genus Dischidia; differences in floral form and function.
Richard McCourt, PhD (University of Arizona) Associate Curator of Botany, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University; 2010-2012: Program Director, Division of Graduate Education, National Science Foundation. Professor. Biodiversity, evolution, ecology, and systematic of green algae, specifically charophyte algae.
Michael O'Connor, MD, PhD (MD, Johns Hopkins University; PhD, Colorado State). Associate Professor. Biophysical and physiological ecology, thermoregulation of vertebrates, ecological modeling.
Sean O'Donnell, PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Professor. Tropical ecology, focusing on geographic variation and elevation effects on ecology and behavior of army ants and ant-bird interactions; neurobiology, focusing on brain plasticity and brain evolution in social insects.
Marina Potapova, PhD (Russian Academy of Sciences) Assistant Curator. Assistant Professor. Taxonomy, ecology, and biogeography of freshwater diatoms; methods of quantifying morphological characters of diatom frustules based on geometric morphometrics; systematic of monoraphid freshwater diatoms.
Gary Rosenberg, PhD (Harvard University) Pilsbry Chair of Malacology. Professor. Magnitude and origin of species-level diversity in the Mollusca.
Jacob Russell, PhD (University of Arizona). Associate Professor. Microbiomes and metagenomics; ecology and evolution of symbiosis.
Ron Smith, MS (Rutgers University). Instructor. Shorebird Ecology and Conservation; Amphibians of the NJ Pine Barrens; Restoration Ecology; Climate Change – Regional Effects and Education
James R. Spotila, PhD (University of Arkansas) L. D. Betz Chair Professor. Professor. Physiological and biophysical ecology, thermoregulation of aquatic vertebrates, biology of sea turtles.
Loyc Vanderkluysen, PhD (University of Hawaii). Assistant Professor. The cyclicity of volcanic eruptions, volcanic degassing processes, and large igneous provinces.
David J. Velinsky, PhD (Old Dominion University) Department Head, Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science. Professor. Geochemical cycling of organic and inorganic constituents of sediments and waters; Sedimentary diagenesis of major and minor elements; Isotope biogeochemistry of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur in marine and freshwater systems.
Jason Weckstein, PhD (Louisiana State University) Associate Curator of Ornithology. Associate Professor. Avian phylogenetics, comparative biology and evolutionary history; biodiversity surveys of birds and their parasites and pathogens; coevolutionary history of birds and their parasites.

Emeritus Faculty

John G. Lundberg, PhD (University of Michigan). Professor Emeritus. Diversity and diversification of fishes; documenting and interpreting the morphological, molecular, and taxonomic diversity of living and fossil fishes in the interrelated fields of systematic, faunistics and biogeography and paleobiology; exploration and collecting in poorly-known tropical freshwater habitats and regions.
Daniel Otte, PhD (University of Michigan) Senior Curator, Systematics and Evolutionary Biology. Professor Emeritus. Taxonomy and biogeography of Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and their relatives).
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