Geologists investigate the materials, processes, and products of the Earth. Students improve their understanding of the planet and its history and apply this knowledge to efforts to supply society with energy and material, to mitigate or predict natural hazards, and to protect and preserve the environment.
Many geologists work for energy companies and are employed in oil, natural gas, geothermal energy or uranium exploration and production. Others may work in the mining industry and work on exploration and production of such materials as copper, gold, molybdenum or rare earth elements. A significant number of geologists are employed in the environmental industry where they provide expertise on the strength and behavior of Earth materials (for various construction projects) or on the behavior or chemistry of surface and ground waters.
The undergraduate program at Nebraska emphasizes sedimentary geology and climate change. Although there is a strong link between sedimentary geology and climate, UNL is one of the few programs that examine this link in a department that includes atmospheric scientists. Faculty members in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences that examine climate change include those with primary research interests in Vertebrate Paleontology, Micro-paleontology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, hydrogeology, groundwater geochemistry, and atmospheric sciences. The Department includes one of the largest collections of paleontologists in the Big Ten. Class sizes in the major are small and students have excellent opportunities to participate in undergraduate research.
The undergraduate chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) organizes travel to scientific meetings and some optional field trips for undergraduate students. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln team was the Mid-Continent Champion in the AAPG Imperial Barrel Award competition in 2009 and 2011. The 2009 team placed second in the International Finals winning the Selley Cup and a $10,000 prize for the Department.
Notable alumni of the our Department include J.B. Coffman (Former President of Exxon Production Research and Former President and CEO of Aminoil), Marlan Downey (Former President of Pecten (Shell International) and former president of ARCO International; current Chairman of the Board of Roxanna Oil Company), Larry Jones (President and CEO of Spartan Petroleum), Dr. Neil Tabor (Associate Professor at SMU), and Dr. Steven Bohaty Ph.D. (National Oceanography Centre; University of Southampton).
Among the notable faculty in the Department are Sheri Fritz (George Holmes University Professor), Christopher Fielding (Coffman Chair of Sedimentary Geology), David Harwood (Stout Chair of Stratigraphy), and David Loope (Schultz Chair in Stratigraphy).
Notable facilities include an in-house Geology Library and a fully equipped Optically Stimulated Luminescence laboratory.
Many faculty in the Department of Earth And Atmospheric Sciences participate in the ANDRILL program (Antarctic Scientific Drilling) and the Water Resources Research Initiative. ANDRILL is a multinational collaboration to recover stratigraphic records from Antarctica by drilling from fast ice. The Water Resources Research Initiative promotes research collaboration on problems related to groundwater, nonpoint source pollution, irrigation, and water policy.