Student-faculty collaborative research is the hallmark of the geology program at UW-Eau Claire. Each geology faculty member is committed to the philosophy that 'learning' science is best achieved by 'doing' science. The learning by doing philosophy has proven enormously successful at preparing our students for both industry and graduate study.
And just in case the idea of academic research conjures up images of students tucked away in the library, buried in journal articles and books, think again. Geology research takes place largely out in the field — the basis of this curriculum. While the end result may look like a more typical research product in the form of a paper or presentation, the process in geology is unique, including field and lab work, as well as the final written results. Again, this degree is about doing — you don't read about geology, you do it.
While in the program, I experienced a research opportunity of a lifetime in the Swiss Alps, worked as a teaching assistant and traveled the USA on geology class trips.
One of the biggest advantages of attending UW-Eau Claire is the opportunity to do undergraduate research. UW-Eau Claire has been designated the Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration by the UW System Board of Regents. Put plainly, this means we are the center of undergraduate research among Wisconsin universities — UW-Eau Claire provides opportunities to undergraduates that larger universities reserve primarily for graduate students.
Each year, multiple geology students (23 last year) present the findings of their collaborative research at the Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, known as CERCA. This campus event aimed at showcasing faculty-student collaborative research, provides not only opportunities to present on campus, but often leads to presentations at regional and national professional meetings. Sometimes student research findings are published in peer-reviewed journals. This is an opportunity often reserved for graduate students at other campuses, but Blugolds can have this experience during undergrad studies.
Field research opportunities
In addition to the strong field component in our curriculum, a number of ongoing research programs encourage students to pursue independent research projects in the field, including the following field areas.
- Lake Superior region
- Southwestern Montana
- Northern Minnesota
- West-central Wisconsin
- Swiss Alps