Mar 28, 2023  
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges & Departments

120 Pasteur Hall
Geoscience website
Toby Dogwiler, Chairperson


Stephen T. Allard, Associate Professor; BS, MS, University of New Hampshire; PhD, University of Wyoming; 2002 -
Jennifer L. B. Anderson, Associate Professor; BS, University of Minnesota; ScM, PhD, Brown University; 2005 -
William Lee Beatty, Assistant Professor; BS, Pennsylvania State University; PhD, University of Pittsburgh; 2008 -
Toby Dogwiler, Professor; BA, Wittenberg University; MSc, Mississippi State University; PhD, University of Missouri; 2002 -
Candace L. Kairies Beatty; Associate Professor; BS, Westminster College; MS, Duquesne University; PhD, University of Pittsburgh; 2007 -

Why Study Geoscience?

If you are one of the many Winona State University students who is curious about the world around you, the Department of Geoscience can help satisfy your curiosity and introduce you to a much broader world. Maybe you’ve traveled to a state or national park and wondered about the origin of the landscapes there or read accounts in the news of natural disasters caused by floods, earthquakes and volcanoes. Perhaps you’re concerned about the cleanliness of our air and water or how nations will respond to climate change. Or maybe the realization that energy shortages will become the norm rather than the exception stirs you to learn about how we can better manage Earth’s finite resources.
If you’re curious about the Earth, we invite you to enroll in one or more of the courses offered by the Department of Geoscience. Our faculty strive to help students understand how the Earth works, ask the right questions and seek ways to answer them. They also help majors and minors prepare for the expanding employment opportunities open to graduates in many fields of geoscience.

Geoscience graduates solve a broad range of environmental problems as consultants in both industry and government; they discover and manage our planet’s mineral and energy resources; they teach in our elementary schools, high schools and colleges; they work in museums and national parks; they practice environmental law and write for newspapers and magazines; they even explore other planets. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Geoscience is an interdisciplinary field that connects in virtually unlimited ways with many other disciplines.

Our curriculum is flexible and offers both bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees. It also provides an ideal liberal arts education for the 21st century: broad preparation in the natural sciences; developing and deepening observational skills, hypothesis building, idea testing and critical thinking. The Department of Geoscience is ready to help you succeed.

Departmental Equipment Available for Student Use

The Department of Geoscience boasts an impressive array of analytical and field equipment for student use in coursework and faculty-supervised student research projects. Students in our program routinely use geotechnical equipment that is typically only found in graduate-level departments and in industry. This hands-on training and experience provides our students a competitive edge in the job market and graduate school.

Throughout the curriculum, courses emphasize both traditional and cutting-edge scientific techniques. During weekly laboratories, students might gauge a stream using a SontekTM FlowTracker Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter and analyze water samples using a Hach™ SensION156 Multi-parameter meter and DR2400 Spectrophotometer. On another day, students might process a rock sample in our state-of-the-art Thin Section Preparation Lab and then investigate the crystallization history preserved in the rock using a Nikon™ petrographic microscope, or they might identify chemical zonation in minerals using our Relion Luminoscope to study cathodoluminescence of crystals. In another course, students take geophysical equipment such as our 12-channel Geode™ seismic system or our AGI SuperSting Earth Resistivity Imager out into the field. Students use this equipment to characterize sub-surface rock layers and analyze environmental hazards associated with caves, sinkholes, and other groundwater-related features.

The department is also actively integrating Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology into the curriculum and student research. Students learn to solve real world problems by combining survey data collected in the field using our suite of TrimbleTM GeoExplorer XT GPS mapping units and NikonTM reflectorless pulse-laser Total Stations with analysis in our GIS computing facility. Students use GPS/GIS to solve problems ranging from tectonic reconstructions of the North American plate to water resource management in local streams. In an employment market in which GIS experience has almost become a universal job requirement, WSU Geoscience students don’t just know GIS - they know how to use it.

When it is too cold to be in an actual stream, students investigate river processes in the Sediment Transport and River Studies (STaRS) Flume Laboratory. The STaRS Lab was funded through a competitive grant from the National Science Foundation. The flumes, one of which is six feet wide and 16 feet long, allow large-scale modeling of rivers. Students, from the introductory through senior-level, complete hands-on assignments and directed research that include projects such as modeling the effects of the lock and dam system on the Upper Mississippi River or testing the impact of various agricultural best-management processes on stream-bank erosion. Additionally, the STaRS Lab includes advanced equipment for processing and studying sediments and soils, including a SpectrexTM Laser Particle Counter and a full range of drying ovens, sieve shakers, analytical balances, and combustion furnaces.

Students whose interests lie beyond the Earth itself can take part in night-sky fieldwork at the WSU Observatory, operated and maintained by the Department of Geoscience. Students can use a new, fully-automated, 12-inch Meade RCX400 reflecting telescope with photographic capabilities and two portable 8-inch Meade reflectors as part of their coursework in Astronomy and Planetary Geology; this equipment is also available to students interested in astronomy research projects. Students who are interested in planetary science may have opportunities for research at NASA facilities, studying planetary impact cratering.

Career Opportunities

Employment opportunities and compensation in the Geosciences have rapidly grown in recent years and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts continued growth during the next decade (see Graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees are finding employment with consulting firms, government agencies, and the petroleum and mining industries.

Graduate School Preparation

The Department of Geoscience has an excellent record placing graduates into master’s and doctoral programs, and most graduates have received financial support for graduate study. Students who are considering graduate studies should supplement their curriculum with a minimum of a full year of chemistry, physics, and calculus. They should also complete an undergraduate research project and take a summer field course as part of their degree program..


The Geoscience Department places a premium on working closely with our students in tailoring their coursework to their individual interests and career goals. Faculty in the department regularly engage students in both formal and informal advising sessions. In addition to coursework, students are encouraged to pursue directed research, internship, summer field courses, and other experiences that enhance their career preparation.

Degree Options

Geoscience Major

BS Major
  • The two BS major options-Geology or Environmental Science-prepare students for a career as a professional geologist. Students completing the BS major options are also well-positioned to go onto graduate school programs in Geology, Environmental Science, Water and Natural Resources Management, and other related field.
  • The BS major options provide students with a broad background in the field, laboratory, and computational skills required of professional geologists. These options also require students to take the breadth of allied science courses in biology, chemistry, math, and physics that are necessary to succeed in the job and graduate school markets.

Students completing these degree programs will typically pursue careers in the petroleum industry, mining, environmental consulting, natural or water resource management, governmental agency and regulatory work, scientifically-oriented non-governmental agencies, or other related fields. A significant portion of graduates also pursue graduate training after completing their degrees at Winona State University.

BA Major

Geoscience: Prepares students for careers or graduate study in fields that explicitly integrate geoscience with a second discipline. Students choose their second disciplinary field and work closely with faculty in both disciplines.

Earth Science Teaching Major

The BS Major Earth Science (Teaching) is designed for students who desire a middle level to secondary school teaching career (grades 5-12); the program conforms to Minnesota Board of Teaching licensure standards. Students completing this program are eligible to apply for a Minnesota license in General Science for grades 5-8 or a license in earth and space science for grades 9-12.

Geoscience Minor

The BS Minor: Geoscience is a flexible program that enables the student to couple his or her interest in geoscience with a second discipline.

Pass/No Credit (P/NC) Courses

All courses in the Department of Geoscience, except GEOS 090 - Earth Talks Speaker Series , must be taken on a grade-only basis unless it is a topics or independent study course specifically offered only as P/NC.

Departmental Requirements

Geoscience majors and minors must achieve a grade of “C” or better in all geoscience courses numbered 235 and higher. For a checklist of the University’s graduation requirements, see the Academic Policies & University Requirements  section of this catalog.

Majors in all options are urged to take a geology summer field course prior to graduation. This can satisfy the requirement for an upper-division elective.

Geoscience Capstone Experience

Geoscience majors are required to complete a Capstone Experience that often includes a research or internship component. The Capstone is designed to promote critical thinking and problem solving skills that are the foundation of a successful career in the sciences.

MNTC Intensive Requirements

The Department of Geoscience offers the following intensive courses in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum:


Oral (◎)

Math/Critical Analysis (◆)

Writing (△)

Intensive courses that can be used to satisfy geoscience major/minor requirements are identified in the lists of required courses and electives in this section.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges & Departments