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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.

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. New in fall 2019, a Rock Garden has been added to campus so that students get to go outside and map like actual geologists.

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. These courses are offered as both day and evening classes and are acceptable for associate degree programs and are transferable (except Meteorology) to four-year institutions to fulfill science requirements.

Experienced, highly qualified faculty provide Geology instruction in 100% online and synchronous online formats for Fall of 2020.


Curious to Learn More About Our Classes? Click on the links below to watch short videos:

Physical Geology (GEOL1403)

Environmental Geology (GEOL1405)

Oceanography (GEOL1445)

Meteorology (GEOL1447)

All of these classes include a lab. For most of the 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.

Contact Info

Heather Brasher
Department Chair
Office: CSI 214

Bryn Benford
Office: B13.708

Christa Spears
Office: B13.508

Martha Donnelly
Interim Dean of Math and Science
Office: B13.812

Our Geology Faculty

Bryn 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
Christa Spears, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology face-to-face, Oceanography face-to-face and 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 Environmental Science 100% online. Dr. Bergeron's research interests are in salt tectonics. She formerly worked for Anadarko.

Sahara "Skye" Ibarra, M.S. - Teaches Physical Geology in face-to-face and 100% online formats. Mrs. Ibarra attended Stephen F. Austin University for her Master's, and she is an active member in the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists.

Janina Rafalska, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology face-to-face. Dr. Rafalska formerly worked for BP.

Tom Toth, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology face-to-face classes primarily in the evening. Dr. Toth fomerly worked for ExxonMobil as a geologist, and he now teaches high school Environmental Science during the day.

James Trammell, PhD. - Teaches Meteorology online. Dr. Trammell works full-time as a meteorologist in Houston.

Joyce Smith, M.S. - Teaches Physical Geology in face-to-face and 100% online formats. Mrs. Smith formerly worked for BP, and her recent interests involve sedimentology.

Christopher White, Ph.D. - Teaches Physical Geology (GEOL1403) in a face-to-face format and Historical Geology in both face-to-face and hybrid formats. Dr. White's research focuses on Economic Geology.

Our Current Students Planning to Continue on in Geology

  • Jacob Harris
  • Stephen Herrera - transferring to University of Texas-Austin in Fall 2020
  • Anjali Khisty - participated in STEMSEAS in May 2019, participated in REU in Summer 2019 in El Paso, transferring to Sam Houston State University in Fall 2020
  • Daniel Minke - transferring to Sam Houston State University in Fall 2020
  • Erin Radisi
  • Nicole Rowse - transferring to University of Delaware in Fall 2020
  • Kassie Sutherland
  • Madeleine Trujillo
  • Nathan Zak

Our Former Students

  • Annette Beckstrand - currently attending Utah State University for Earth Science Education
  • Nicole Bretting - graduated UT in Spring of 2019
  • Andrew Chen - graduated UT in Spring of 2019
  • Brandon Geddie - graduated Texas A&M for B.S. and M.S. in Geology in January 2019
  • Rachel Johnson - currently attending Rice University for Environmental Science
  • Devin Mcquaig - currently attending UH
  • Maggie Wilson - currently attending Texas A&M

Transfer Institutions for Geology

Opportunities for Students

  • Scholarships:
    • USRA Scholarship Program for undergraduate students:
      • USRA offers scholarships to undergraduates who have shown a career interest in aeronautics or space research related fields, or in space science education.  Eligible majors include aerospace engineering, astronomy, astrobiology, biophysics, computer science, earth science, electrical engineering, geophysics, geology, mathematics, mechanical engineering, physics, and space science education.

        Awards are made to undergraduates who will be juniors or seniors in the fall.  Up to four scholarships will be awarded, in the amount of $5,000 each.   

        Applications are now being accepted, through Aug 7, 2019.

        Information is available at https://www.usra.edu/educational-activities-and-opportunities/scholarship-awards

        Applications may be submitted via https://www.hou.usra.edu/usra_scholarships/application/

  • Research Opportunities:

    • UTEP-ROCCS - University of Texas - El Paso Research Opportunities for Community College Students interested in geological sciences. Five-week experience that occurs in the summer and includes a $4500 stipend. Transportation to and from El Paso and housing are covered.

    • 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.

    • Other internships

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 at right shows some of the workforce possibilities for those with different degrees (from https://serc.carleton.edu/sage2yc/careers/overview.html)

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