Albion College geology graduates are successful in obtaining interesting and well-paying jobs. Currently, there are numerous well-paying jobs with petroleum and metal exploration companies as well as in the area of water resource and environmental management. Other geology graduates have been employed by numerous consulting firms; by research institutes; by state geological surveys and the U.S. Geological Survey; by universities and colleges as geology professors and by secondary schools as earth science teachers.
Over one-half of our graduates have chosen to continue geology studies at major universities and have obtained master's or doctoral degrees in geology before beginning their careers.
Three National Science Foundation grants to the department have established sophisticated geographic information systems (GIS), inductively coupled argon plasma (ICP) spectrometry and x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry laboratories. Another NSF grant has provided electronic mapping tools, including global positioning receivers and base stations, laser ranging equipment and an electronic total station for precise fieldwork.
The Dow Analytical Science Laboratory houses a JY 38S ICP spectrometer with a Cetac 5000AT ultrasonic nebulizer, a Rigaku 2100 wavelength dispersive XRF spectrometer, a Fluxy automatic fluxer, a Sedigraph 5100 particle size analyzer, a Rigaku miniflex X-ray diffractometer, and a CEM Mars 5 microwave digestion system. This equipment supports analysis of a wide range of materials, including rocks and natural solutions, for most elements from trace (parts per billion) to major (%) levels. The Geology Shop includes rock crushing and grinding equipment, rock saws and polishing equipment and a Buehler petrographic thin section machine. Students in both introductory and advanced courses use the equipment, and it supports advanced environmental and geological research projects.
Our other laboratories are also well-equipped and include: an Olympus research-grade petrographic microscope with heating/freezing stage and digital imaging systems; a Franz magnetic separator; new binocular and petrographic student microscopes (along with color digital video and photographic microscopy units and image analysis software); three stream tables; a 3-meter flume, wave tank, current velocity meters and data-logging water analysis sondes; exploration seismograph; resistivity apparatus; and a magnetometer. Department collections include over 6,000 rock and mineral specimens, over 10,000 fossil specimens and more than 2,000 specialized maps.
Many departmental maps, minerals, rocks and fossils are displayed throughout the science complex. The Mitchell Museum and the science complex atrium include the wave tank and additional fossil, rock and mineral displays. The hallways of the department also have exhibits of current faculty and student research as well as additional maps and specimens.
The computer laboratory for GIS and digital image analysis includes 12 Windows XP workstations, two color scanners: a large format map and poster scanner and a desktop flatbed scanner, a color inkjet printer, a laser printer, and a link to the E-size printer/plotter in the nearby Dow Analytical Laboratory. Software for creating, manipulating and analyzing spatial data and images (maps, aerial photos and satellite imagery) includes the most recent versions of ArcGIS (ArcInfo and ArcView), ArcPad and ENVI.
Field study is important in geology, so the department maintains an active field program. Each spring students and faculty participate in a regional geology seminar and subsequent 10-day field trip; recent trips have been to California, Louisiana, Great Britain, Iceland, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona and New Mexico, New England, the Ozarks, the Northern Appalachians and the Smoky Mountains. Local field trips are sponsored by the student-run Geology Club. In addition, the Geology Department operates a summer field program in Wyoming, and South Dakota. Students from Albion and many other colleges and universities attend this camp each summer for training in geologic mapping and field research.
Research opportunities are available to all majors in their junior and senior years. Students may work on an individual laboratory or field problem within the scope of their background and write reports on the findings. Outstanding seniors may carry out honors work in geology or may take part in work that supports faculty research. The Lawrence D. Taylor Undergraduate Geology Research Fund supports student research and travel to present at regional and national meetings. A local chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, a national earth science honorary, is active on the Albion campus.