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Since its inception in 1969, the our department has continuously evolved and remade itself. Throughout this process we have always stayed true to three principal goals:

  • to provide the best possible education for our students
  • to conduct the highest quality research
  • to serve the global community by increasing our understanding of the natural environment and our role in it

Like many departments, we began with classical programs in geology, geochemistry and geophysics. These programs were built and nurtured throughout the 1970s by geologists like stratigrapher Malcom "Mac" Weiss, geochemist Sam Goldich and micropaleontologist Peter Webb. In 1972 the department created a summer field course that continues to be taught today. The 1970s also marked a great expansion in polar and climate research at NIU Geology.  Profs. Lyle McGuinnis and Peter Webb led the international Dry Valley Drilling Project in Antarctica, the first geological drilling on the Antarctic continent. Our department continues to be a global leader in polar research today.

The strength and uniqueness of our graduate program was recognized in 1981 when the State approved the our request to begin a Ph.D. program. This program brought with it a significant increase in the number of faculty, as well as an increased diversity of faculty research disciplines. Throughout the 1980s the department consequently expanded its expertise in the areas of hydrogeology, environmental geology, glaciology and climate change. This trend continued through the 1990s when the department’s programs became increasingly interdisciplinary. At the same time, the faculty recognized a growing, national need for well-trained science teachers at the high school and middle school levels. The department responded by creating a teacher certification program that today serves nearly 30 students, more than the entire number of geology majors in some departments.

As we look toward the future our expectations are high and our goals remain the same. We continue to develop and offer the best possible classes and research opportunities to our students. We strive to conduct relevant, cutting-edge research that pushes the boundaries of our science. And, we fulfill our responsibilities to the local, state, national and global communities by sharing our knowledge and discoveries so that we can have a better chance of sustainable development in the future.

Contact Us

Geology and Environmental Geosciences
Davis Hall 312

815-753-1943 (tel)
815-753-1945 (fax)

askgeology@niu.edu