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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 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.

“Some of the Most Amazing Places in the World”

This spring, 11 students joined Dr. Page Quinton, Dr. Mike Rygel and Dr. Christian Schrader on an amazing journey to explore significant geological sites of west Texas and southwestern New Mexico. They plied acres of ground in search of clues and fossilized life forms, climbed 2,000 feet in elevation and hiked 10 miles roundtrip along the way—bringing to life topics discussed in their classes back home.

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Breaking the Mold

In a world with rising education costs, Dr. Michael Rygel and Dr. Page Quinton are at the forefront of reducing financial burdens, while also elevating the academic experience for their students. They recently completed an OER textbook on sedimentary geology, full of photos and illustrations from their own research with SUNY Potsdam students and alumni, which is now part of the curriculum in Rygel’s 300-level course.

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The Tick Trackers

As Jada West ’24 drags a light-colored flannel sheet across the forest floor, she searches for microscopic creatures most of us hope to never encounter. Pulling the sheet over leaves, plants, and soil she captures Blacklegged ticks like a lint roller absorbing fuzz balls from a favorite sweater. Working with Dr. Kate Cleary, Dr. Glenn Johnson, Dr. Bridget Amulike, and Dr. Jessica Rogers, West and four other students were able to get hands-on experience through grant-funded research this summer, studying small mammals and examining tick abundance around Potsdam.

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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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