Skip to main content
Kids at Cooper's Rock


About Geography
Students doing field work

Environmental Geosciences

About Environmental Geosciences



This past Saturday (April 13th) 180 poster presentations were given at the the 3rd Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.  First place in the Agricultural and Environmental Science field was given to Kailee Gokey, Chase Mowery, and Erin Mates for their research titled: Urban Legacies - Linking Glass Manufacturing to Soil Pollution in Morgantown, WV.

photo of Undergraduate Research Symposium 04 15 2019 Kailee Gokey, Chase Mowery, and Erin Mates
With a Grain of Salt

Kathleen Benison (Geology & Geography), will be exhibiting her photographs of ancient rocks in the Downtown Library, from May 9 - July 31, 2019.  These photographs depict red muds, blue gypsum, and clear halite, along with entrapped microcapsules of Permian water, atmosphere, and microorganisms. All reflect remnants of acidic, salty lakes and groundwaters, which existed in Kansas about 270 million years ago. Dr. Benison will discuss her work in an artist talk on Monday, May 13, 2019, at 1:00 PM in Room 1020 of the Downtown Library

Learn more about this exhibit

Photo of ancient rocks

Shikha Sharma (Geology & Geography) received an award from Sandia Laboratories to research the effect of nanopore confinement and nanofluidic properties of shale on isotopic signatures



WVU’s team of Geology graduate students won second place at the AAPG Imperial Barrel Award Competition in Pittsburg on April 13, 2019,  with their  Evaluación de la Cuenca Basca-Cantabrica, España. The team members, from left to right, are Luke Fritz, Kaitlin Evans,  Tobi Ore, Randy Toth and Jarrett Smith. They were ably supported by Jackson Jakeway. Congratulate them if you see them wearing their medals around Brooks Hall.

IBA2019 Team Luke Fritz, Kaitlin Evans, Tobi Ore, Randy Toth and Jarrett Smith


New hydrogeologist joins the faculty

 We are happy to announce that Dr. Chris Russoniello will be joining the WVU Geology Program in the Fall. Chris is a physical hydrogeologist interested in how environmental variability affects water flowing on and through the earth. He has carried out innovative research on how  waves, currents, and climate drive groundwater flow in coastal and marine aquifers. He also studies the potential effects of climate change on the quantity and quality of groundwater in aquifers. Dr. Russoniello uses a combination of field, laboratory, and numerical modeling techniques and collaborates with engineers, biogeochemists and geophysicists to carry out his research which spans scales from centimeters-to-globe and seconds-to-centuries.


WVU's Next Generation of GIS Professionals visit Michael Baker

Once again we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to visit with the next generation of GIS Professionals from West Virginia University's (WVU) GIS Applications class.  The annual event was held at our Moon Township, PA office and afforded Dr. Harris' budding professionals the opportunity to see real world applications of geospatial technologies and tour our innovative Mobile LiDAR/Pavement Inventory collection vehicle.

Student group and Dr. Harris at Michael Baker


Atlas of the 2016 Elections

Atlas of the 2016 Elections, co-edited by Dr. Ken Martis, received one of the Best Reference Books of the Year award by the Library Journal.

Atlas of the 2016 Elections. Rowman & Littlefield. 280p. ed. by Robert H. Watrel & others. maps. index. ISBN 9781538104224.     Future generations will be discussing the contentious 2016 presidential election for years to come; congressional, state, and local elections are covered here as well. This work is an excellent place to begin an analysis, with 131 figures and 17 tables of astounding quality, along with short, astute essays that interpret the data. Simple to browse and a wonderful source for reports, the book is a bonanza for political junkies and professionals alike. ( LJ 7/18)


Dengliang  Gao ( Geology & Geography) received a grant from the Occidental Research Corporation for the Bright-Spot Technology (BST) Research and Development Consortium .


Jonathan Hall (Geology & Geography) received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to continue the California Condor Flight Response in a Variable Meteorological and Topographic Environment project.


Through trees and ice

The National Science Foundation awarded a three-year, $219,263 grant to Amy Hessl, professor in the Department of Geology and Geography, to reconstruct the history of the Southern Annular Mode wind belt over the last 2,000 years. Hessl and her research team will study the movement of the westerly wind belt circling Antartica that influences the climate of the Southern Hemisphere, carbon and heat uptake and the ice melt in Antartica.  Read more about her research.


Unearthing an ice age in the African desert

A field trip to Namibia to study volcanic rocks led to an unexpected discovery by WVU geologists Graham Andrews and Sarah Brown. While exploring the desert country located in southern Africa, they stumbled upon a peculiar land formation—flat desert scattered with hundreds of long, steep hills. They quickly realized the bumpy landscape was shaped by drumlins, a type of hill often found in places once covered in glaciers, an abnormal characteristic for desert landscapes.  Read more about the research from Africa.


Professors co-author book about West Virginia's geology

As you travel home for the holidays, authors of "Roadside Geology of West Virginia," Joe Lebold, professor in the Department of Geology and Geography, and Christopher Wilkinson, professor emeritus in the School of Music, hope that you'll take a glimpse of the geology around you. Over the last four years the authors journeyed along the roads of the Mountain State, past road cuts exposing contorted rock layers, coral reefs and ancient red soils to create this guide for travelers.

Watch This Video


Dr. Brenden McNeil - New research suggests forests, like humans, require a balanced diet

The world’s forests are on a fast food diet of carbon dioxide, which is currently causing them to grow faster. But a researcher at  West Virginia University, along with an international team of scientists, finds evidence suggesting that forest growth may soon peak as the trees deplete nitrogen in the soil over longer growing seasons. 

West Virginia’s wildlands are a “canary in the coal mine for climate change” because of the forests’ biodiversity, which, along with rich soils and abundant rainfall, make them among the strongest forests globally, according to  Brenden McNeil, an associate professor of  geography at WVU’s  Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. The state’s forests have been resilient to a barrage of logging and acid rain in the 19th and 20th centuries but are now exhibiting symptoms of declining health because of climate change. 

Read more about it.


Dr. Kathleen Benison's research is featured in Morgantown Magazine

Kathy Benison’s research on acid salt lakes could help the search for life on Mars. A professor of geology at WVU, Benison examines halite and gypsum that form in rare acid salt lakes in Chile and western Australia. As the salts grow, they trap pockets of lake water, air, and microorganisms that accurately document their environments. She and colleagues applied this knowledge to salt deposits from ancient lakes in the U.S. Great Plains and Northern Ireland to learn about conditions on Earth’s early continent Pangaea. Take it two giant leaps farther, and the research could point to the answer to one of humanity’s biggest questions...

Read more about it in Morgantown Magazine.

Dr. Brenden McNeil's interview - "It’s now or never on climate change"

Dr. McNeil was interviewed on “The Gary Bowden Show” on WAJR-Clarksburg last week. His interview was picked up by WV MetroNews.


Geology grad receives GeoCUR Award for Outstanding Research

Alumna Holly Pettus (BS Geology, 2018) is among 15 undergraduate students from universities across the nation to be recognized for her outstanding research with the 2018 GeoCUR Award for Excellence in Student Research. Her research focused on investigating the origin of potassium feldspar (K-feldspar) megacrysts from a small granitoid intrusion in western Nevada. 

Kenneth Brown, a teaching assistant professor of geology, said he nominated Pettus because he was impressed with her work and dedication to science.

“Beyond being a great student, Holly is very motivated and has shown a remarkable sense of curiosity, enthusiasm and interest in the fields of igneous petrology, volcanology and geochemistry,” Brown said. “She is an excellent role model for other young, female students entering the STEM fields.”

Read more about the award.


Lions, Zebras and Geography, Oh My!

Among the lions and zebras in Tanzania in the summer heat, a West Virginia University environmental geoscience student explored the geography of the land.

Weirton, West Virginia, native Francesca Basil (BA Environmental Geoscience, 2018) traveled to the East African country in summer 2018 with support from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences’ Academic Enrichment Program.

Read more about Francesca's time in Tanzania.


Geography class featured in WVU Magazine

This spring, a Geography 102 class made a project for extra credit that has turned into a testament to West Virginia's staying power throughout the world. The students searched for videos of people around the world singing what may be your favorite song: “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” They put their research into an online map displaying more than 50 versions of the song.  Read more about the project in the magazine.

Dr. Brent McCusker has recently contributed to a major study of migration projections in the developing world.


Jing Chen, RRI GRA and Ph.D. candidate in Geography, wins 2018 Barry M. Moriarty Award

West Virginia University alumnus Jothiganesh Shanmugasundaram received an Outstanding Scientist Award during the National Conference on Climate Resilience for Sustainable Livelihood in Annamalai Nagar, Tamil Nadu, India on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

  • Dr. Hessl's research was recently highlighted on WVU Today!
  • Ancient trees in Mongolia dating back more than 2,000 years are helping place current and future climate change in context, according to a new West Virginia University-led study.
  • **********************************************************
  • Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Helen Lang

To find out more on Dr. Lang's legacy please go here:

  • Dr. Helen M. Lang passed away December 17, 2017, from the effects of cardiac arrest. Her family was by her side at Ruby Memorial Hospital at West Virginia University (WVU). She was a valued member of the WVU Geology faculty for 32 years, from 1984-2016, retiring as Emeritus Associate Professor.  Helen M Lang Obituary
  • Helen Lang
  • **********************************************************
  • US Dep't of Labor projects 29% increase in geography jobs through 2022.
  • **********************************************************
  • Caitlin Ahrens, a Fairmont native and West Virginia University alumnus  was recently honored as the Jaycees' (U.S. Junior Chamber) Outstanding Young West Virginian of 2018.  See here for more.
  • **********************************************************
  • Former geography MA student Pete Clark’s thesis research is in the news: Is Rock Climbing Bad for Cliffs?
  • **********************************************************
  • Drs Amy Hessl and Jonathan Hall's research spotlighted in EOS: Citation: Witman, S. (2018), Critical role of grazing animals in an ecosystem,  Eos, 99, Published on 30 January 2018.
  • **********************************************************

  • The Department of Geology and Geography is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community. We echo Provost McConnell’s statement from August 16.

    “Each year brings new challenges and opportunities, but this year we face a very particular challenge revealed by last weekend’s events in Charlottesville. We strongly condemn white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and other hate groups. These groups understand the role of public universities as venues for free speech and seek to exploit our campuses for their own purposes using racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, anti-immigrant, misogynist, and anti-Muslim speech and violence. They know that free speech is their right; we know that it is also a responsibility. As a public land-grant university, we have an obligation to promote free speech but to also do everything in our power to oppose bigotry, hate, and violence, to keep our community safe, and to use education to inspire our students to seek justice for all.”

  • **********************************************************

    Bridget Walter, a Geology undergrad, was the recipient of the 2017 Marshall Miller Field Camp Award for her  performance as the top student in Geology 404, Geology Field Camp.
  • **********************************************************

  • WVU geography professor featured in DP for grant in food security:$30K


  • PhD student Kristen de Graauw publishes paper:


  • Former undergrad, current MA in geography Shawn Cockrel publishes paper on Cook’s Mill (WV) and gets the cover shot:


  • WVU Geography professor wins Fulbright to Australia


  • Lucy Aistis an Environmental Geosciences at West Virginia University won a scholarship from the Mid Atlantic Chapter of the International Erosion Control Society. Lucy is a senior, and has been on the Dean’s List as well as the President’s List, is a member of numerous organizations, and has been an intern for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

More News


Brooks Weather Station Weather Underground PWS KWVMORGA25


Full Calendar


More Jobs