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School of Earth and Climate Sciences

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The University of Maine is located in a beautiful natural setting that provides an ideal training ground for Earth and Climate Scientists. The School of Earth and Climate Sciences is housed in a spectacular new building that was designed specifically for our needs. Our internationally recognized faculty and cutting-edge research facilities will prepare you for a variety of career opportunities, or alternatively for continuing your education to the masters or doctoral level.  We invite you to explore our website and don’t hesitate to contact us for more information!

See the following topics below for more information:

Why major in Earth Sciences?

Then you should investigate a career path in the Earth and Climate Sciences! These are exciting times in which energy and resource supply, climate change and environmental sustainability are major world concerns. Earth Scientists play a central role in these and other important issues, and the future career opportunities have never been better. See our News page for more about how we  contribute to these issues. Also, see below for what our recent graduates are doing!

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What do Earth and Climate Scientists do?

Our planet is a spectacular natural laboratory just waiting to be explored, its secrets discovered, and its processes understood. From the energy resources and manufacturing materials that originate from the Earth to the earthquakes and hurricanes that threaten lives, Earth and Climate Scientists are on the front line in a wide range of societally relevant pursuits. They use data and observations to better understand how humans are altering global climate, traveling to remote and wild places to measure the flow of glaciers and the melting if ice caps.  Earth and Climate Scientists monitor how water quality is affected by agricultural and industrial activity, and how plate tectonics drives volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. They provide essential information for establishing  governmental policies for resource management, environmental protection and public health. Earth and Climate Scientists make a difference. Check out our Research page to learn more about the types of work that we do, and visit our Undergraduate Life page to see how our students are engaged in faculty-led research projects.

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What career opportunities are there in the Earth and Climate Sciences?

The prospect of diverse, interesting, and challenging career opportunities is one of the strongest reasons to consider majoring in Earth and Climate Sciences at the University of Maine. Career options are wide ranging and include jobs in resource exploration and management, technical consulting, engineering, environmental sciences, as well as K-12 and post-secondary education. There are a multitude of different jobs in the private sector as well as federal, state and local governmental agencies. Because of their broad, but scientifically-grounded education, Earth and Climate Science majors also have many opportunities in professions requiring a knowledge of the Earth and how humans impact its climate and environment. These include health, law, business, diplomacy, public policy, teaching and journalism. At the  same time, the program provides sufficient depth so that our graduates will be prepared for graduate school in a broad range of subdisciplines of the Earth Sciences. The American Geological Institute is a great site for exploring career opportunities in depth.

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What are our graduates doing?

Most of the graduates from our department are working at good jobs in the Earth Sciences, or are in graduate school pursuing masters or doctoral degrees. We are proud of these young scientists and the contributions that they are making. Below, we highlight some of our graduates. Where they are and what they are doing provides the best illustration of the value of a degree from our department.

Andrea Lasselle grew up in Augusta, Maine. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in our department in ’05. Andi is currently working for the Maine State Department of Environmental Protection as an Oil and Hazardous Materials Emergency Responder.

Andi says:

I transferred to The University of Maine my junior year and was immediately impressed by how welcoming the Earth Sciences Department was. The professors were supportive and engaging and I became good friends with many of the other geology students. It didn’t take long to feel like I was part of the department. When I graduated from UM, I did not immediately find a job “worthy” of my degree. It took some time but I was eventually hired by an engineering and environmental consulting firm in Maine. I spent the summer on the Androscoggin River collecting water samples and learning to use environmental monitoring equipment. At the end of the summer, I was offered a job working for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. For two and a half years I worked for Paul Blood, Senior Environmental Hydrogeologist (and fellow UM alumnus). I helped to conduct soil and groundwater investigations on oil and gasoline contaminated sites. I learned to operate a geoprobe, to install monitoring wells, and to use ArcGIS. Now I work as an Oil and Hazardous Materials Specialist for Maine DEP. I respond to both petroleum and hazardous materials spills that occur on land or water in DEP’s Eastern Maine Region. Instead of remediating sites already contaminated, I am first on the scene to stop the spill from harming the public or the environment. I had no idea when I graduated that this was the kind of job waiting for me and what I learned as an undergraduate in not only my geology courses but the required physics, math and chemistry courses has proven invaluable. I couldn’t be happier working each day to protect both the environment and public health and safety. I am grateful to the Earth Sciences Dept. of The University of Maine for making it possible.

Holly Jean Theriault grew up in Stacyville, Maine. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in our department in ‘06, and then a Master of Science degree in our department in ’08. Holly is currently working with Chevron in Midland Texas and is having a great time!!

Holly says:

My job involves reading permeability and porosity on well logs to find moveable oil/gas, creating structure and isopach maps, making cross-sections, taking field visits out to my field office crew and drilling rigs, and includes on the job training, as well as paid-for continuing education classes (even in other cities/states). I have the opportunity to travel all around the globe. In the simplest sense, I tell the engineers where to drill new wells and where to add perforations in existing wells to find oil. I have flexible hours and get every other Friday off. I set my own schedule, and all of my travel is paid for. I work hard, but I love this job!

Ethan Perry grew up in Masardis, Maine. He completed a Bachelor of Science degree in our department in ’02, and then a Master of Science degree at The University of Texas at Austin in ’05. Ethan is currently working as a geologist for Devon Energy in Houston, Texas.

Ethan says:

Research and classroom activities at the University of Maine showed me just how exciting and multi-faceted the Earth Sciences are. These terrific field and laboratory experiences, as well as rich interaction with faculty and graduate students, encouraged me to pursue a career in the geosciences. From very early in the undergraduate program, I was actively involved in mercury deposition research, using Maine lake sediments as “tape recorders” of atmospheric processes. UMaine undergraduates are encouraged to assume contributing roles on active research teams during their degree program. Fieldtrips organized by the student Geology Club and supported by faculty members also opened my eyes to a world of geoscience opportunities. As an undergraduate, I even mapped glacial deposits in Antarctica. On many occasions, I was able to share my developing love of geosciences with K-12 students and teachers through a grant that infused university research into Maine schools. I am confident that these real-world research, learning and teaching opportunities have made me a better geoscientist. Today, I work as a production geologist at Devon Energy. Here, I investigate the subsurface using the latest technologies, predict where oil and natural gas may be discovered and work with a team of engineers and geoscientists to evaluate if it can be produced economically. I came to Devon after receiving a M.S. degree from The University of Texas at Austin, where I conducted field studies to investigate the way the Earth’s continental crust has stretched in the southwest US. More recently, I lived in Indonesia and taught science and language in local high schools, and investigated earthquake and tsunami preparedness, as a Fulbright Fellow. My career path began as an undergraduate at the University of Maine, and I have been exploring how the world works and developing as a geoscientist ever since.

Malissa Washburn Groome grew up in Connecticut. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in our department in ‘06, and then a Master of Science degree in Earth Sciences at the University of British Columbia in ‘08. She is currently working for Newcrest Mining in Australia, and is living “down under”!!

Malissa says:

As an undergrad Earth Science major at the University of Maine, I was encouraged early on to get involved in an active research project. I spent two summers as a field assistant mapping the metamorphic rocks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on and around Mount Washington. Not only was I paid for the work while I acquired valuable field experience, I also received credits by turning my summer job into an honors thesis project. The thesis research allowed me to investigate a number of different aspects of geology, from isotope geochemistry to three-dimensional computer modeling, and also prepared me for my current job as an exploration geologist for a major gold mining company in Australia. In this role, I gather geological data, such as structural, mineralogical and lithological information, from mapping and logging drillcore. I then use these data to produce a 3D geological model to better understand the distribution of gold and copper in existing ore deposits, and also to help target new ore deposits. There are many opportunities to travel, the job is intellectually challenging, and I get to work with and learn from a lot of interesting people. It is very satifying to be able to make a living doing something I am enthusiastic about.

Dustin Johnson grew up in Limerick, Maine. He completed a bachelors of science degree in the department in 2008 and is working on completing his Master’s of Science degree in the department in 2010.

Dustin says:

I spent some time outside of this department working on an engineering degree before transferring to Earth Sciences in 2004. The differences were easy to see right way. Smaller classes allow for a greater level of interaction between both peers and professors. I believe this relationship encourages a more applicable style of learning where students are urged to think for themselves on various real world problems and ideas. Along with the classroom experience, the department offers numerous opportunities to get involved with current and ground-breaking research in various fields from climate change and geochemistry to structural geology and geophysics. I think this is a key aspect to how this department performs as it is not just lectures and classes that encourage growth, but the actual application of the knowledge you gain here that creates opportunities in the future. These are just some of the factors that have helped prepare me to be active in shaping the future of the planet and not just watching it change.

Alice Doughty grew up in Sebago, Maine. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in our department in ’06, and then a Master of Science degree in our department in ’08. Alice is currently working toward a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

Alice says:

The University of Maine has helped me prepare for, what I hope to be, a successful and exciting research and teaching career. I cannot thank the Earth Science Department enough for the laboratory and field work opportunities I had as an undergraduate. The required courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and modeling have given me an advantage over many geologists from other universities. Several students from my graduating class stayed on to complete a Masters, which is something I never thought I would be able to do, but I did it! I am now living in New Zealand’s capitol, taking an Alpine Instruction Course to be more comfortable with crevasse rescue, working with computer models of glaciers to estimate past climate conditions, and measuring flow rates and mass balance of those glaciers in the beautiful Southern Alps as part of my Ph.D. I hope you too find a career that gives you challenges, rewards, opportunities, and a chance to get outside!

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Image Description: GWSampling-07c

Image Description: What do Earth Scientists Do?

Image Description: Careers

Image Description: Andi piloting the “Alvin McNeily” down the Penobscot River. The “Alvin McNeily” is the 32-foot marine spill response vessel assigned to DEP’s Eastern Maine Response Division.

Image Description: Holly Theriault

Image Description: EthanPerry

Image Description: Malissa Washburn

Image Description: Dustin

Image Description: Alice after a Ground Penetrating Radar survey on Annette Plateau, New Zealand.

Image Description: Alice with her advisor, Andrew Mackintosh, walking down Mangatoetoenui Glacier on the Mt. Ruapehu volcano.

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Contact Information

School of Earth and Climate Sciences
5790 Bryand Global Sciences Center
Orono, ME 04469-5790
Phone: (207) 581-2152 | Fax: (207) 581-2202E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469