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Earth and Environmental Sciences

One Department, Three Degree Programs, Infinite Possibilities.

We train scientists to understand the Earth … the interconnected geological, chemical and biological process that act on it and how to use science to help solve some of society’s most pressing problems.

Our Geology B.A. and B.S. degrees focus on the deep history of our planet, its composition and the geologic processes that shape it (earthquakes, volcanoes, water, climate, and more). The B.S. in Geographic Information Science provides students with map-making and spatial data analysis skills that are essential to visualize geographic phenomenon and solve location oriented problems. The B.S. in Environmental Science represents the intersection between geology and biology in order to understand and solve environmental issues.

SUNY Potsdam’s location, focus on applied learning, small class sizes, emphasis on undergraduate education/research, closely allied network of STEM departments, and focus on careers makes us the perfect place for you to learn about the “pale blue dot” that is our home.    


Measures of Success

Just a mile down the road from SUNY Potsdam, Claudia Basabakwinshi ’24 slips into her waders and carefully steps into the chilly water flowing through Parkhurst Brook. Extending what looks like a blue telescopic ski pole, she measures the water velocity with a flow meter, as her classmate Allyssa Card ’26 calculates the depth of the stream. The two students are part of the first cohort in the College’s brand new environmental science program, which is preparing students for careers in environmental conservation and protection.

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A Mover and Shaker

Unlike the slowly developing rock formations that she studies with her students, Dr. Page Quinton has moved mountains since she started at SUNY Potsdam—infusing the campus with her passion for teaching as she launches new applied learning initiatives in and out of the classroom.

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Applied Learning, Close to Home

Graduating at the top of her class in high school, Anah Bogdan ’24 was looking for a college experience close to home where she could pursue her passion for mathematics. Now a sophomore, she has made the President’s List the past two semesters, and has added a second major in geology. She was recently asked to join a research team to examine rock formations in Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains National Park with Dr. Page Quinton and Dr. Mike Rygel. Leading up to that trip, Bogdan will be working as a field assistant in Montana to measure and describe 300 million-year-old rocks, valuable field that she will inform her research project in Texas.

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Hammering Out the Past

From analyzing rocks within the walls of the geology lab, to visiting rocky outcrops around Northern New York, Megan Heins '20 gained valuable skills as an undergraduate student at SUNY Potsdam. Now she's completing a master's degree, with plans to get a Ph.D. in the field of micropaleontology.

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Finding her Layer at SUNY Potsdam

Using cutting-edge technology in SUNY Potsdam’s geology labs, Rachael Savoie ’21 has been analyzing the rich shale and limestone from the Joggins Formation in Novia Scotia—digging back 300 million years in search of answers.

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The Man Behind the Lens

If you’ve recently gazed on photos of Jupiter’s murky gases or a panorama showing unprecedented detail on the surface of Mars, chances are, you were seeing Daniel Krysak’s work. Krysak ’08, who graduated from SUNY Potsdam with degrees in both speech communication and archaeology, with a minor in geology, is living the dream of just about every techie and space buff. He's one of the people behind all those stunning panoramas of Mars, for three different NASA missions.

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Samantha McComb ’20

Samantha McComb '20 has been fascinated with geology ever since she was five years old, and now she is following her dream of becoming a geologist by working with Dr. Michael Rygel and Dr. Page Quinton in the Department of Geology.

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Kate Grisi ’16

Alumna Kate Grisi ’16, a Geospatial Analyst for the Department of Defense, has climbed the ladder of success very quickly since graduating with a B.A. in geology three years ago. After taking just two GIS classes at SUNY Potsdam, she landed an invaluable internship with the DOD, which led to a full-time position with them in the summer of 2018.

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Three Passions, One Degree

Brandon Keough '18 is graduating from SUNY Potsdam this semester with a degree in geology, minor in wilderness education and a performance certificate in viola from The Crane School of Music. This summer he will be kicking off his graduate studies at Purdue University by conducting research in a remote area of Alaska.

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Geology in the Field

Students pursuing a degree in geology have the opportunity to examine rock formations throughout the region, such as this trip to Harper Falls where Professor Sara Bier expanded on classroom instruction in a real-world setting. 

Erin Wagner '13

Just five years ago, alumna Erin Wagner ’13 was studying geology behind the walls of SUNY Potsdam’s Timerman Hall. Now she works as a geologist for ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company in the world.

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