The Ohio State University School of Earth Sciences advances our understanding of Earth as a dynamic and complex system, its past and present evolution; examines the human impact and implications of global change; and educates the next generation of scientists, researchers, teachers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and environmental professionals.

By the Numbers

  • 30 Faculty
  • 75 Graduate Students
  • 150 Undergraduate Students
  • 2 Faculty have won the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
  • 32 Facilities
  • Over the last five years, the faculty have brought in over $20 million in federal research funding from NSF, NASA, DOD, DOE, EPA, NOAA, and NIH
  • Faculty have published more than 1811 referred papers in journals

Areas of Study

  • Earth History
  • Geodetic Science
  • Solid Earth Dynamics
  • Water, Climate, and the Environment
  • Environmental Public Health

Degree Programs


The School of Earth Science offers two undergraduate degree programs, the Bachelor of Arts (BA), and the Bachelor of Science (BS)


The school offers a Masters and PhD degrees in Earth Sciences and Geodetic Sciences

A Fractured Shale Ecosystem

For about a decade, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has boosted the oil and gas industry’s ability to recover more hydrocarbons from wells. But for Mike Wilkins’ group, it brought a unique way to look at ecosystem development among microbial communities living in one of the most unlikely environments on Earth. In 2016, his group was part of a team that published one of the first characterizations of the microbial community present in these “fracked” shale formations — a pretty inhospitable environment 2 kilometers underground of high pressure, high temperature and high salinity. By combining temporal sampling with powerful genomics and proteomics tools, Wilkins’ group can track how the microbial community changes and behaves.

Laboratory Facilities

  • Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Lab, (SIBLab)
  • Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory, (RIL)
  • Trace Element Research Laboratory, (TERL)
  • Water Isotope and Nutrient Laboratory, (WINL)
  • Subsurface Energy Materials Characterization and Analysis Laboratory, (SEMCAL)
  • Ice Core Paleoclimatology Laboratory
  • High-Pressure Mineral Physics Lab
  • WHEEL Noble Gas Laboratory

Affiliated Research Facilities

  • Byrd Polar Research Center recognized internationally as a leader in polar and alpine research and houses computer facilities, state-of-the-art computers, workstations, GPS processing software and RAID-based data archive
  • Orton Geological Museum located in historic Orton Hall, features the geologic history of Ohio plus fossils and minerals from all over the world
  • Orton Memorial Library of Geology houses titles relevant to various aspects of geology, geography, polar studies, and soils

Field Camp Rocks!

Field Camp is an essential part of the learning experience in the School of Earth Sciences. For nearly 65 years, students and faculty have been traveling to Ephraim, Utah to engage in field-based research activities that include collection and interpretation of geologic data, synthesizing geological histories, report writing, and geologic mapping.

In Utah, students are exposed to the rock record of geological events ranging from Proterozoic to Holocene. Since its inception, Field Camp has hosted over 1,000 students who have gone on to pursue successful careers in geology.

Get more of the story in the 2011 issue of ASCENT.

12 2017