About Us

The Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences balances teaching and research to expand and apply knowledge in the geosciences to help fulfill the land grant mission of Iowa State University. Established in 1898 as a geology and mining engineering department and merged with atmospheric sciences in 1964, the department has 17 faculty members, ~40 graduate students, and ~180 undergraduates in two programs: geology and meteorology. The department is housed in Science Hall and Agronomy Hall on the north side of the ISU campus (map).


Our goal is to prepare undergraduates and graduate students for careers as professional geoscientists through access to world-class faculty and facilities. Courses are aimed at providing a learning environment that is challenging, supportive, and experiential, with hands-on student projects that make use of field and laboratory research facilities. Departmental faculty members have been awarded a total of 10 college and university teaching awards since 2000. The Carl F. Vondra Field Station, the basecamp for a six-week summer field course in northwest Wyoming, both provides unparalleled learning opportunities for geology and earth science majors and serves as a focal point for an extremely active and generous group of geology alumni. Students emerge from our meteorology and geology programs equipped with the tools and expertise to contribute to their professions and society.


Research activity of the faculty spans the physical and chemical processes that control weather, climate, and evolution of Earth’s lithosphere and hydrosphere. Major focus areas of this research are societal challenges involving climate change and water resources that lie at the intersection of our geology and meteorology programs. Research projects are highly interdisciplinary, involving interaction of our faculty with over 30 other departments, programs, and centers within Iowa State University since 2000. The geography of recent research by the faculty and their graduate advisees includes numerical modeling focused on climate systems of the Arctic, Africa, and East Asia, and geologic field work in Australia, Bering Sea, Fiji, Greece, Gulf of Maine, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, southern California and the Rocky Mountain West, as well as numerous projects in the Upper Midwest. Funding sources for departmental research are diverse and include NSF, DOE, NASA, USDA, NOAA, energy and mineral companies, and various private foundations and institutes.