Undergraduate Catalog: Fall 2009 - Summer 2010 with Spring 2010 course updates

Undergraduate Catalog - with Spring '10 course updates

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department

See also: General Degree Information

Department-specific courses:
Geology (GEOL)

Who's Who in the Department Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

John F. Casey

Kevin C. Burke, John F. Casey, John P. Castagna, Henry S. Chafetz, Stuart A. Hall, Christopher Liner, Rosalie F. Maddocks, Robert R. Stewart

Associate Professors:
Regina Capuano, Peter Copeland, William R. Dupré, Ian Evans, Shuhab Khan, Michael Murphy, Bernhard Rappenglueck, Jonathan Snow

Assistant Professors:
Xun Jiang, Thomas J. Lapen, Barry L. Lefer, Aibing Li, Alexander C. Robinson, Jolanta W. Van Wijk


The geosciences are concerned with how the Earth works, the processes that shape its internal and external structure, and the development of our planet and other bodies in our solar system through time. It includes the study of the solid earth as well as its fluid envelopes.

Geoscientists are charged with a wide variety of tasks, such as finding adequate supplies of natural resources, protecting our natural environment from environmental degradation, reducing the risks associated with geologic hazards, documenting and understanding the evolution of life through time and providing insights into past and future changes in global climate.

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree is offered in both geology and geophysics.The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree is offered in earth science. Students may also choose an option in either environmental geosciences or atmospheric sciences for a B.S. in environmental systems.

Most geosciences graduates typically find careers with energy or environmental companies, either with a B.S. degree in geology or geophysics or after completing a graduate degree. Employment opportunities also exist with a variety of governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local level. The B.S. in environmental science prepares students for careers in environmental fields. Graduates with B.A. degrees in earth science are prepared for careers such as teaching (K-12) or may enter graduate programs such as law, business, environmental studies, or public policy.

Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences faculty members are geologists, geophysicists and atmospheric scientists. Their research and teaching encompasses a wide range of topics including sedimentology and stratigraphy, geochemistry, and petrology, structure and tectonics, environmental and atmospheric geosciences, remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), solid earth geophysics, and applied and fundamental seismology. Many faculty members have backgrounds in basic research or in applied industry and government service, and all bring their expertise to their research and teaching.

Undergraduate research opportunities exist with faculty members, and participation is strongly encouraged. Since Houston is home to numerous energy companies, there are plentiful opportunities for geosciences undergraduates to gain valuable experience prior to graduation and employment after graduation.

Departmental Requirements

The Bachelor of Science degree in both geology and geophysics, and the Bachelor of Arts degree in earth science, require that:

  • no geoscience course with a grade below C- be used as a prerequisite for a more advanced geoscience course;
  • students with more than six hours below C- in geoscience courses not be allowed to enroll in subsequent geoscience courses without written permission from the undergraduate advisor.

All undergraduate geology, geophysics and earth science majors are encouraged to meet with the undergraduate advisor prior to enrollment (registration) each semester.

Prerequisites for all geosciences courses are strictly enforced.

Catalog Publish Date: May 4, 2010
This Page Last Updated: August 16, 2009