LSC-University Park Geology Department

Geology web header

The Lone Star College-University Park Geology Department explores the theory of geologic processes that shape the Earth and all its landforms. Geology students gain a greater appreciation of the Earth through the study of the physical forces that shape the Earth, the history of the Earth through the study of environments, the development of life, and the succession of geological events.Students working at the Rock Wall on campus

Our three-story geology rock wall makes our classes highly interactive and engaging. The department also has two Augmented Reality Sandboxes and a Stream Table. A 30-boulder Rock Garden spread across the campus has been added so that students get to go outside and map like actual geologists. New in Spring 2021, a stream gauge and weather station have been added for students to learn about reading and interpreting live data.

Courses include Physical Geology (GEOL1403), Historical Geology (GEOL1404), Environmental Geology (GEOL1405), Oceanography (GEOL1445), and Meteorology (GEOL1447). These courses are suitable for geology majors and non-majors. Courses (except Historical Geology) can be taken in any order. These courses are offered both online and in-person. They are acceptable for associate degree programs and are transferable to four-year institutions to fulfill science requirements.

Experienced, highly-qualified faculty provide Geology instruction in 100% online and face-to-face formats for Fall 2021. Click on one of the links below to jump to a particular topic:Physical Geology students observing a boulder on campus
Geology Classes
Contact Info
Geology Faculty
Geology Students
Geology Rock Star Award
Transfer Institutions for Geology Students
Opportunities for Students
Geology Jobs

Our Geology Classes

Are you curious about our Geology courses but are not sure which one is right for you? Watch the short videos below to learn about a specifc course. Don't let the course numbers fool you. You can take GEOL1405 (Environmental Geology), GEOL 1445 (Oceanography) or GEOL1447 (Meteorology) without taking GEOL1403 (Physical Geology) or GEOL1404 (Historical Geology). 



 All of these classes include a lab. For most of the online courses, the labs are completed within D2L and are based on maps and data (both image-based data and numerical data). No lab materials are required for purchase.

Ready to register? Watch this video to learn how:



Lone Star - University Park graduate Marcos Jimenez is the first student to be the recipient of the Chuck Caughey Geology Scholarship!

The Chuck Caughey Geology Scholarship is intended for students transferring as a junior to Sam Houston State University in Fall 2022 to complete a B.S. in Geology. The scholarship pays tuition, fees, books, and room and board for two years. A 3.0 GPA is required to apply, and candiddates must enroll at SHSU to major in Geology. The scholarship is awarded every two years. Marcos Jimenez is the first student to receive this scholarship. Contact Dr. Bryn Benford for more information. 

Applications for 2023 NOAA undergraduate scholarships opening this Fall!

Don't miss your chance to apply to NOAA undergraduate scholarship programs, which include paid NOAA internships and academic scholarships. Applications for the NOAA Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship and Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) Undergraduate Scholarship are open from September 1, 2022, through January 31, 2023.

Hollings Scholarship

EPP/MSI Undergraduate


Up to $40,000 including: Up to $45,000 including:
  • $9,500 stipend per year for junior and senior year
  • A 10-week paid NOAA internship
  • Funds for travel and conference participation
  • $9,500 stipend per year for junior and senior year
  • Two 10-week paid NOAA internships
  • Funds for travel and conference participation
Eligibility: Eligibility:
  • U.S. citizen
  • 3.0 minimum GPA
  • Major in NOAA mission fields, including STEM and social science
  • Attend a minority-serving institution (MSI)
  • U.S. citizen or U.S. national
  • 3.2 minimum GPA
  • Major in NOAA mission fields, including STEM and social science

Scholarships Available for Transfer to Steven F. Austin for Geology? 

Steven F. Austin (SFA) College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSM) will be offering two new STEM Transfer Scholarships. The scholarships are renewable for one additional year, and will be offered in the following amounts:

  • $1,000 for students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 - 3.49
  • $2,000 for students with a cumulative GPA of 3.5+

Additional eligibility requirements:

  • Students must have successfully completed at least 45 transferable hours prior to entering SFA
  • Students must enroll full-time at SFA during the fall and spring semesters
  • Students must declare a major within the SFA Department of Geology

One-year renewal requirements:

  • Students must have earned at least 24 semester credit hours toward their degree during the first fall and spring semesters at SFA
  • Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Students must continue to pursue a major within the SFA Department of Geology

The online application is accessible through the SFA COSM Student Resources – Scholarships webpage (https://www.sfasu.edu/academics/colleges/sciences-math/student-resources/scholarships). As an added bonus, the COSM has indicated that Lone Star College students are among those who will be given priority during the evaluation of scholarship applicants.

Contact InfoPhysical Geology students identifying igneous rocks in the Rock Wall

Dr. Jess Kelly 
Dean of Math and Science
Office: CSI.212
Dr. Christa Spears
Department Chair
Office: B13.508

Our Geology Faculty

Picture of Dr. Bryn BenfordBryn Benford, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology in face-to-face, hybrid, 100% online, and Honors formats. She also teaches Environmental Geology and rarely Historical Geology. Dr. Benford's doctorate work was on tectonics in conjunction with applied geophysics.
Office Phone: 281.655.3785
Office: B13.708
Picture of Dr. Christa SpearsChrista Spears, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology face-to-face and 100% online, Oceanography face-to-face and 100% online, Meteorology 100% online, and Honors Historical Geology. Dr. Spears formerly worked for ExxonMobil. Her research for her Ph.D. focused on paleoclimates.
Office Phone: 281.290.3747
Office: B13.508


Cindy Bergeron, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology face-to-face and 100% online. Dr. Bergeron's research interests are in salt tectonics. She formerly worked for Anadarko.
Aimee Bichler, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology face-to-face. Dr. Bichler also teaches Meteorology at the University of Houston Downtown. She formally worked at Hess and BP. Her graduate research focused on paleoclimatology and paleoceanography.?
Jennifer Campo, M.S. - Teaches Oceanograhy 100% online. Ms. Campo worked previously at Halliburton. Her M.S. research focused on Antarctic glacial geomorphology.
Virginia Gasparini, M.S. – Teaches Meteorology 100% online.  Ms. Gasparini also teaches math at Lone Star-UP.  Her M.S. research focused on the observed and simulated microphysics of thunderstorms. 
Sahara "Skye" Ibarra, M.S. - Teaches Physical Geology in face-to-face and 100% online formats.. She also teaches Oceanography 100% online. Mrs. Ibarra attended Stephen F. Austin University for her Master's, and she is an active member in the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists.
Keena Kareem, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology.  Dr. Kareem’s research interests include Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Geochemistry, and Archean Volcanology.  She formerly worked at Chevron for 10 years.
Karastin Katusin, M.S. - Teaches Environmental Geology 100% online. Ms. Katusin works full-time as a Harris County Environmental Educator. Her masters research focused on paleomagnetism and large scale plate reconstructions. 
Tom Toth, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology evening face-to-face classes. Dr. Toth formerly worked for ExxonMobil.
Christopher White, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology (GEOL1403) in a face-to-face format and 100% online and Historical Geology in both face-to-face, hybrid, and online formats. Dr. White's research focuses on Economic Geology.

Our Current Students Planning to Continue on in Geology or Oceanography Physical Geology students working at the Rock Wall in Spring of 2021.

  • Adam Accoccro
  • Jacob Harris
  • Karina Hernandez
  • Kassie Hopkins
  • William Howell
  • Nicholle Nagaitis
  • Chloe Oxford
  • Raul Puente
  • Amanda Sandstedt
  • Madeleine Trujillo
  • Meagan Young
  • Nathan Zak
  • Kevin Zavala

Geology Rock Star Award

Each year, the University Park department hands out an award to the most promising geology student. Here is a list of previous recipients:

  • 2017: Devin Mcquaig
  • 2020: Anjali Khisty and Daniel Minke
  • 2021: Daelynn Huber
  • 2022: Andrew Bierbower

Our Former Geology Students

  • Annette Beckstrand - transferred to Utah State in 2019, currently attending Utah State University for Earth Science Education
  • Andrew Bierbower - participated in field work at Big Bend State Park with UHD in the winter of 2022, participated in 2022 NSF REU: Planetary Habitability Over Space and Time at Rice in the summer of 2022, transferred to University of Houston-Downtown in 2022, majoring in Geoscience with a focus in Geochemistry
  • Wes Book - transferred to Sam Houston State University in 2020, majoring in Environmental Science
  • Nicole Bretting - transferred to UT in 2017, graduated UT in Spring of 2019
  • Emily Bruchmiller - transferred to UHD in 2022, majoring in Geosciences
  • Andrew Chen - transferred to UT in 2017, graduated UT in Spring of 2019, currently a Geologist at Chevron
  • Aaron Escobar - transferred to UHD in 2020
  • Brandon Geddie - graduated Texas A&M for B.S. and M.S. in Geology in January 2019, currently a Geologist at Chevron
  • Austin Hammerli - transferred to University of Florida in 2021, currently attending the University of Florida in the Geosciences
  • Stephen Herrera - transferred to UT-Austin in 2020, currently attending University of Texas-Austin
  • Marco Jimenez - transferring to Sam Houston State University in Fall 2022, Chuck Caughey Geology Scholarship recipient
  • Rachel Johnson - transferred to Rice in 2019, graduated from Rice University for Environmental Science in 2022
  • Anjali Khisty - transferred to Sam Houston State University in 2020, participated in STEMSEAS in May 2019, participated in REU in Summer 2019 in El Paso, currently attending SHSU
  • Daniel Minke - transferred to Sam Houston State University in 2020, currently attending SHSU
  • Bryttani Muniz - transferred to Sam Houston State University in 2019, currently attending SHSU
  • Devin Mcquaig - transferred to UH in 2017, graduated with in 2019 with a B.S. in Geology from UH, currently attending UH graduate program
  • Erin Radisi - graduated in 2019
  • John Ramsey - transferring to Sam Houston State University in Fall 2022
  • Nicole Rowse - transferred to Sam Houston State University in 2021, currently attending SHSU
  • Mallory Schreiber - transferring to Sam Houston State University in Fall 2022
  • Maggie Wilson - transferred to Texas A&M in 2019, currently attending Texas A&M

Transfer Institutions for Geology Physical Geology students working together at the Rock Wall

Opportunities for Students

  • Monthly virtual transfer events with Steven F. Austin. 
  • Summer Bridge Program:
    • GET TX - An NSF-funded grant for Sam Houston State University and Lone Star College - University Park. A 10-day summer bridge program for students held at Sam Houston State University that includes an $800 stipend with room and board. Applications due March 4th.
  • Research Opportunities:
    • STEMSEAS - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Student Experiences Aboard Ships. This program si a 6-10 day exploratory experience for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds aboard a reserch vessel. Most expenses (travel to and from ports of call, materials, and living expense while on the ship) will be covered. Watch this video made by one of the participants in 2018. 
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Holling Undergraduate Scholarship. The scholarship program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance (up to $9,500 per year) for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time paid ($700/week) internship at a NOAA facility during the summer. For more information: https://www.noaa.gov/office-education/hollings-scholarship
      Link to NOAA recruiting video

Geology Jobs

  • Industry: oil, mining, environmental, geologic engineering
  • Non-profit: environmental, planning, education
  • Government: local and regional planning, Environmental Park Agency (EPA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), State Geological Survey (SGS), National Park Service (NPS), State Park Service (SPS)
  • Academia: Community College (teaching), University (teaching and/or research)
  • Financial Services
  • For a detailed information regarding Geology Career Information, go to: https://serc.carleton.edu/sage2yc/careers/index.html
  • The chart below shows some of the workforce possibilities for those with different degrees (from https://serc.carleton.edu/sage2yc/careers/overview.html)
Hydrologic technician X X    
Geospatial technician X X    
Oil and gas technician X X    
Marine technician   X    
Mine geologist   X    
Earth science teacher   X    
Broadcast meteorologist   X    
Natural resource regulator   X X  
Environmental consultant   X X  
Petroleum geoscientist   X X X
Faculty member at a 2-year college     X X
Research scientist     X X
Faculty member at a 4-year college       X

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