Wellesley College Geosciences

Why Study Geosciences?

The American Geological Institute notes the following about what Geoscientists do:
  • Follow paths of exploration and discovery in quest of solutions to some of society’s most challenging problems.
  • Predict the behavior of Earth systems and the universe.
  • Find adequate supplies of natural resources, such as ground water and petroleum.
  • Conserve soils and maintain agricultural productivity.
  • Develop natural resources in ways that safeguard the environment.
  • Maintain quality of water supplies.
  • Reduce human suffering and property loss from natural hazards, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, landslides, hurricanes, and tsunamis.
  • Determine geological controls on natural environments and habitats and predict the impact of human activities on them.
  • Define the balance between society’s demand for natural resources and the need to sustain healthy ecosystems.
  • Understand global climate patterns.

If you've ever wanted to learn about the past and future of the Earth, managing natural resources, or how natural events impact all life on earth, the Geosciences may be for you. The Geosciences are about understanding how the Earth works by focusing on the way in which the solid Earth interacts with the atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere. The interdisciplinary relationships make the Geosciences one of the most wide-ranging of all scientific disciplines. Geoscientists use chemistry, astronomy, physics, biology, mathematics, and computer science to understand the planet as a natural system including its origins, evolutionary history, and future outlook.

The Geosciences Department at Wellesley College offers courses with traditional geological perspectives on earth materials and earth history, as well as courses focused on modern settings like wetlands or polluted industrial sites where humans and nature collide. Training includes the use of modern analytical instrumentation to solve a complex range of problems in the Geosciences. Course work is complemented by research opportunities grounded in both approaches.

Faculty Profiles

Title Courses Taught (Last Taught) Research Focus
Dan Brabander
Dan Brabander
Associate Professor of Geosciences ES/GEOS 201: Methods & Probls Envir (Spring 2013)
GEOS 320: Isotope Geochemistry (Spring 2013)
EXTD 220: Paradigms, Pred & Joules (Fall 2012)
ES/GEOS 315: Environmental Geochem (Spring 2012)
GEOS 101: Earth Processes & Environ (Fall 2011)
Environmental Geochemistry,
Medical Geology
Kathy Gilbert
Kathy Gilbert
Instructor in Geosciences Laboratory GEOS 102: LAB: The Dynamic Earth (Spring 2013)
GEOS 101: LAB: Earth Processes & Environ (Fall 2011)
Stable Isotope Geochemistry,
Physical Geology
Dave Hawkins
Dave Hawkins
Associate Professor of Geosciences GEOS 206: Tectonics/Structural Geology (Fall 2012)
GEOS 106: FYS The Tectonic Earth (Spring 2012)
GEOS 203: Earth Materials (Spring 2012)
GEOS 306: Evolution of the Lithosphere (Fall 2011)
GEOS 102: The Dynamic Earth (Spring 2011)
Plate Tectonics
Katrin Monecke
Katrin Monecke
Assistant Professor of Geosciences GEOS 200: Earth History (Spring 2013)
GEOS 304: Sedimentology (Fall 2012)
GEOS 102: The Dynamic Earth (Fall 2012)
GEOS 101: Earth Processes & Environ (Fall 2011)
GEOS 218: Geomorphology (Fall 2011)
Surficial Geology
Elizabeth Pierce
Elizabeth Pierce
Visiting Lecturer GEOS 208: Oceanography (Spring 2013)
GEOS 102: The Dynamic Earth (Spring 2013)
ES/GEOS 216: Earth Climate Sys Thru Time (Fall 2012)
Glacial Processes,
Maria Waller
Maria Waller
Instructor in Geosciences Laboratory GEOS 102: LAB: The Dynamic Earth (Spring 2013)
GEOS 101: LAB: Earth Processes & Environ (Fall 2011)
Science Education

Field Trips

Field Trip
Geologists, out standing in their field.

Nearly every semester, the Geosciences department takes students on various field trips either as part of a course, or separately open to any interested student. Club Rocks hopes to provide additional field trip opportunities to its members in the coming years because we believe that it's important not only to learn about geology, but to see it in action! Visit the Events page to find out more!

In the past, students have gone on field trips to:


“Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.”
- Will Durant
“Rocks are records of events that took place at the time they formed. They are books. They have a different vocabulary, a different alphabet, but you learn how to read them.”
- John McPhee
“We are like a judge confronted by a defendant who declines to answer, and we must determine the truth from the circumstantial evidence.”
- Alfred Wegener
“We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson