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Geological and Environmental Sciences
Kathy Giottonini
Administrative Assistant
Pacific Geosciences Center
1051 West Mendocino Ave
Stockton, CA 95211

Success After Pacific

The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences is proud of the hundreds of living alumni who have their degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences from University of the Pacific. Take a look at where some of them have taken their Geological and Environmental Sciences degrees since they graduated from Pacific.

Cindy LeCindy Le '12
Major: Environmental Sciences
Current Job: Environmental Resources Project Manager for Sedgwick County, Kansas

Le initially majored in biochemistry, but changed her mind after taking a class from Pacific hydrologist Laura Radamacher. After graduating from Pacific, she earned her master's degree from Friends University in Kansas and now focuses on water, air and waste treatment.

Q - When did you know water was what you wanted to study?

CL - I guess it was after Laura Radamacher's class, the intro. When I took it, I was like, "I like this." I really like science, but I also like to talk to people. I like to connect the dots and go into policy. My mind was blown because when you turn on the tap, (water) doesn't just come out. There's so much politics behind it. There are so many issues going on. That's when I really got into it because it connects the science with the policies and with everyday people.   

Q - What kind of experiential learning opportunities did you have?  

CL - I did research with Laura (on acid mine drainage). I think it's important to let students know they should talk to their professors because for me, what I use most today isn't just what I learned in the classroom. I think it's important to take students outside of the classroom and put them in the real working world even as an intern photocopying stuff, because at least they get the flow. That was a big culture shock for me to go from college and intellectual and really smart people to (being) in the working world where you're working with not just the geologists but admin people. You're going to work with engineers; you're going to work with a full range of people.  

Q - What advice do you have for students considering Geological and Environmental Science?  

CL - I would definitely tell them to talk to their professors and put themselves out there. I know that being in college, all you see if your test scores and your grades, I would tell them, do well but don't let that bog you down. Don't let that discourage you from doing what you want. I would advise them to get out there, get to know people that are working in the field and get their perspective. Go intern. Put yourself out there. I guess that would apply to any college student.

Our graduates find that the Department of Geological & Environmental Sciences prepared them well for their futures. Whether they decide to seek advanced degrees or choose to work in industry, government, or non-profit fields, degrees from our department have helped them succeed. Our graduates have gone on to successful careers with a wide range of organizations, including:

  • IT companies
  • DeltaKeeper
  • Kleinfelder, Inc.
  • Numerous High Schools in California and other states
  • National Resource Conservation Service
  • Environmental Resolutions
  • Condor Earth Technologies
  • Dillard Environmental
  • CA Department of Fish and Game
  • CA Department of Transportation
  • Channel Islands State Park
  • Woodward-Clyde
  • Peace Corps 

Recent Graduates: here are a few examples of recent graduates from our department.
Gabby McDaniel (BS Geology)
After graduation, Gabby taught English as a volunteer at the African-American Alliance Community Center near Arusha, Tanzania, before continuing on to complete the Environmental Studies graduate program at the University of Oregon. In 2011, Gabby was awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship - Pacific's first recipient. Her stellar academic record earned her membership in Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the Earth Sciences honor society. Gabby began a multi-year research project in her freshman year, focused on water quality using biogeochemical techniques to understand the effects acid mine drainage on an urban watershed in Oakland, CA. and was awarded a Pacific Fund Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship for the project. She presented the results of her work at annual meetings of the Geological Society of America and the Pacific Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference (PURCC). In her "spare time" Gabby pitched for Pacific's Softball team.

Chris Brown (BS Environmental Science)
Chris Brown completed a double major in Environmental Science and Music. He participated in the Honors Program at Pacific and graduated cum laude. Chris is a member of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the earth science honor society. As a double major, he had to carry very high course loads (often 19 units and solo classes on top of that).  Chris has a deep love of learning and is intensely curious. During an internship with the City of Stockton, he compiled the city's Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory. He conducted a similar audit for Pacific, presenting the results at PURCC last year. Chris is very active on campus-a member of the pep band and Phi Mu Alpha, the music fraternity. This year, he served as the Peer Advisor for the REELL program, a learning community focused on environmental issues.  After graduation, Chris will enter a credential program at CSU East Bay, and he plans to become a high school science teacher.

Luke Crawford (BS Geology)
Luke Crawford spent 6 years in the Navy after high school and was a student at Modesto Junior College before transferring to Pacific. While working on his AA, he interned with the Civil Engineering office of the City of Modesto. Luke is a very dedicated, hardworking student who is graduating magna cum laude. He was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the earth science honor society. Luke undertook a daunting undergraduate research project with Dr. Burmeister to develop a method of turning traditional paper-based maps into new, cutting edge GIS geospatial databases. He presented his research at the 2010 Geological Society of America meeting. His presentation attracted the attention of the USGS and several state geologic surveys, in addition to ESRI, the software developer.  Luke plans to pursue a Master's degree in hydrogeology.

Robyn Mendoza (BA Environmental Studies)
Robyn Mendoza transferred to Pacific from Delta College and she has been a welcome addition to our program. Robyn is a single mother and has a job, yet carried a full course load and managed it all with a smile. Despite this heavy schedule, she took on an undergraduate research experience with Dr. Rademacher, looking at acid mine drainage issues in Oakland. Last summer, Robyn had an internship with Calaveras Big Trees, in which she developed educational programs and demonstrated her gift for explaining environmental issues to all ages. The experience convinced her that she wants to work as a park ranger and, having excelled on the preliminary tests and interviews, she is well on her way!

Distinguished Alumni
Dr. William H. Casey (BA Geology)
Dr. Casey, who earned his B.A. in Geology from Pacific in 1976, is a professor of Chemistry at UC Davis and runs a lab that specializes in aqueous chemistry-the reactions between water, rock and minerals-related to the environmental and geological sciences. Dr. Casey received the 2010 EAG Science Innovation Award/Werner Stumm Medal from the European Association of Geochemistry. This award recognizes a scientist who has made outstanding and innovative contributions to Geochemistry.

Alumni Reflections: see what some of our alumni have to say about their time in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Justin Elliot (BS Geology)
Staff Geologist. Kleinfelder, Inc.

  • How did Pacific prepare you? While all of the classes prepared me for my professional career, two classes helped me in particular. Hydrogeology taught me about the important aspects of hydrologic conductivity, radial flow, draw down in wells, and general ground water characteristics. Sedimentary Petrology gave me the ability to correctly classify soils while working on a drilling rig, which is what we work with often in the Central Valley.

  • Fond Memories My fondest memories all involve the classmates I worked with. It is impossible to pick one time... with such small class sizes, you quickly become very good friends with your peers. The faculty and other majors are always there to help you.

Rebecca Sengpiel (B.S. Geology)
Graduate student: Indianapolis University, Purdue University, Indiana

  • How did Pacific prepare you? The wide range of classes offered by the department prepared me well for graduate school. Furthermore, the excellent professors hold students to high standards, which has helped me excel in work and research environments. My current research utilizes remote sensing to explore the environmental and geological aspects of the Eagle Creek Reservoir, Indiana. I would have been unable to succeed in this area of study without the solid background my Pacific education provided.

  • Fond Memories I gotta say, the field trips were the best part!

Corinne Wong (BS Geology, BA Environmental Studies with Biology concentration)
Assistant Professor of Geology at Boston College

  • What are you researching in graduate school? I am evaluating the impact of brush removal on recharge to a karst aquifer, which involves comparison of pre- and post-brush removal drip rates and water chemistry in a cave directly beneath the treated area. I am also mapping soil moisture to evaluate changes in recharge rates. The results will help evaluate the efficiency of brush removal as a method for increasing groundwater recharge, which is an important question in rapidly developing, dry regions such as central Texas.

  • How did Pacific prepare you? Pacific prepared me for graduate school by giving me a solid, broad base of knowledge and learning skills to draw from. The geology department was proactive in getting me field experience, which served to drive home big picture concepts while making geology enjoyable. Labs were not cookbook style, but hand crafted to make lecture concepts come together.

  • Fond Memories Being a part of the Geology department was a unique, enjoyable experience. The combination of the small department size, the number of field trips, and above all the good nature of everybody made for good times. On one trip, I remember barely beating a storm by pushing a Toyota Corolla up the last hundred feet through a mountain pass, cruising through an isolated valley down towards Kramer Ranch in northern California, and camping out on a blanket of freshly fallen snow under a full moon and clear sky.

Jason Mejia (BS Geology - Geoscience Teaching Track)
Earth Science Teacher, Cesar Chavez High School, Stockton

  • What are your duties as a teacher and coach? I currently teach Earth Science (Honors, regular, and English-Language Learners) and plan to teach both Geology and Environmental Science courses next year. The latter two courses are awaiting approval from Sacramento State University to be classified as college-level courses. I coached Football and Women's Soccer last year, but fell in love with soccer. I hope to take over the Men's program at Cesar Chavez next year.

  • How did Pacific prepare you? Attending Pacific prepared me well for my career as a science teacher. My major courses provided me with a good understanding of a variety of scientific disciplines while the broad general education experiences enhance my ability to assist students outside my area of expertise.

  • Fond Memories My best memories are from the lab sessions. Meeting with my peers to decipher lab assignments-morning, afternoon, or late at night-built a camaraderie that lessened the stresses of college life. It may seem ironic, since the labs often caused the stress, but working with my friends was very therapeutic.

Eric Brown (BS Geology)
Graduate student: University of California, Davis

  • What are you researching in graduate school? I am researching the origins of a 6 km thick sequence of volcanic rocks in East Greenland that was erupted in less than one million years during the opening of the Atlantic Ocean. Such large volumes of volcanic rocks are often attributed to sources from within the Earth's mantle. I am currently examining the chemical and isotopic compositions of these rocks, which will help us understand where they actually came from.

  • How did Pacific prepare you? It didn't take long to notice that my Pacific experience prepared me very well for graduate school. I have a good "big-picture" understanding of how the Earth works that some other students coming from bigger undergraduate universities often lack. I believe this is a direct result of the broad background in the fundamentals of geology that forms the core of Pacific's geoscience curriculum. Furthermore, the "student-centric" learning environment fostered at Pacific prepared me well for my job as a teaching assistant. I take my TA responsibilities seriously, because my Pacific geology professors continuously demonstrated that they were educators first.

  • Fond Memories I have always looked back fondly on my experiences at Pacific. This is particularly true for the geology department. From my first class with Dr. Pearson, I have always felt a strong connection with the faculty. This connection was strengthened during the 4-day field trips, when faculty and students could enjoy being in the field and spent countless nights "hanging out" by the campfire. I always appreciated the genuine interest the professors had in me as an individual and always felt that the department was more of a closely-knit family.

William A. Fahmy (BS Geophysics)
Senior Geophysical Advisor, ExxonMobil Exploration Company

  • How did Pacific prepare you? The great thing about Pacific is not only the quality of the education, but the close interactions between students and professors. This closeness leads to a genuine learning experience that is impossible to find at bigger schools, where there is often little to no student-faculty interaction. The close attention a student gets at Pacific translates into a great education that really prepares you for the future.

  • Fond Memories Pacific is a relatively small school, and I met some of my best, life-long friends there. Other memories include the field trips Dr. Kramer would lead, especially those to Northern California coast where the forest and the beach meet-it was so beautiful and we had a wonderful time. I also enjoyed playing soccer for Pacific and remember beating Stanford, which was the upset of the century! Oh, we celebrated afterwards! I always look back on my time at Pacific. Those moments were some of the best times of my life.