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For Prospective Students

Frequently Asked Questions

What opportunities are there to do field work and research in the Department?

Since geology is such a visual and experiential science, we ensure that there are ways for students to explore geologic problems in the field as well as in the lab. Most of our courses have some component of field work. There are afternoon field trips during lab periods for our introductory courses and some upper level courses. In the upper level courses, there may also be field trips on weekends from 1 to 3 days in length.

Ben Bornstein working in southern Utah with Prof. Gardulski

We offer optional extended field trips for our majors. In alternate winter breaks, we often go on a 14-16 day field trip to Arizona and New Mexico where we study the geology of famous and not-so-famous localities. The trip culminates in a 3-day hike in the Grand Canyon, examining rocks that represent nearly 2 billion years of Earth's history. In alternate spring breaks, we offer an optional 8-day field trip to southern Utah to visit spectacular geologic sites that include ancient fossil-bearing rocks that accumulated in a shallow sea, the deposits of 180 million year old deserts in Capitol Reef National Park, and the iconic Delicate Arch near Moab.

Students working in glacial varves
with Prof. Ridge

In addition, the faculty welcome students to participate in their research. Faculty with grants may be able to fund student research on their projects over the summer, and such work often has led to a senior thesis during a student's last year at Tufts. For example, in the past 2 years Prof. Jack Ridge has had 4 students work with him on an NSF-funded project to study glacial lakes that formed at the end of the last ice age, and 2 students did senior theses based on their work. Another senior is working with Senior Lecturer Jacob Benner on trace fossils in sedimentary rocks that are about 310 million years old, near Attleborough in southern Massachusetts. Trace fossils are the impressions or traces that organisms make as they live on and in sediment – tracks, trails, burrows, etc. The student and Jake discovered the impression of a winged insect that is the oldest of its kind.

If you have the background and motivation to participate in such projects, our faculty are very enthusiastic about including students in their work. Most often, students are at least in their junior year by the time they get involved in research, so they would have enough background to do meaningful work.

More Information about Research Opportunities