Geochemistry involves two different emphases. Low-temperature geochemistry involves study of chemical and biochemical processes on and near Earth’s surface, including land, oceans and freshwater bodies, and how the geochemical record reflects climate conditions. High-temperature geochemistry includes study of formation and evolution of the Earth and other planets, magma formation and properties, volcanic activity, and metamorphism. The AB degree requires a total of 14 courses, including 5 geoscience courses and 4 chemistry courses, and a few supporting math and physics courses. The ScB degree requires a total of 20 courses, including 7 geoscience courses and 4 chemistry courses, either with an organic or an inorganic focus, plus some supporting math and physics courses and one research course. Geoscience courses emphasize a process-oriented approach, with hands-on experiences in labs and on field trips. There is a strong emphasis on active and collaborative learning, and on practice in communication. There are many opportunities for students to do research work for pay during the academic year or in the summer, in areas such as experimental studies of magma formation, and analyzing lunar rock samples for water content.
Students in this concentration will:
Almost all students undertake a capstone experience, which may include a summer field course, a senior seminar course, or an independent research course. ScB students are required to complete at least one semester of research; AB students do not have this requirement, but many undertake a research course as an elective. Honors may be awarded to candidates for either an AB or an ScB degree, if they have a GPA of 3.4 or higher in concentration courses and complete honors work in independent research (GEOL 1970). Honors research is supervised by one faculty member and the resulting thesis is read by two additional faculty. An oral presentation and a final paper, revised at least once, are required. Please consult the department’s website for procedures and for a list of recent thesis titles and faculty sponsors.
This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:
Geology-Chemistry concentrators can find a variety of employment opportunities with their undergraduate degree, including the private sector (e.g. environmental and energy consulting firms), government (research positions at state and US Geological Surveys, EPA, national labs), academic (research internships and universities, teaching at private schools, museums, outdoor education centers, Teach For America), and non-profits (community and national organizations). Visit the Geological Sciences Alumni blog and see recent online alumni/ae newsletters. About half of all concentrators eventually go on for a professional or advanced degree, either in basic science or in one of the increasing number of interdisciplinary programs.
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