University of Wisconsin–Madison

Welcome to Geoscience

The mission of the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is to research and disseminate information on the structure, chemistry, physics, and evolution of the Earth; life on Earth and in the solar system; and the interaction between physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape the Earth. We strive for breadth and excellence in our coverage of the subdisciplines within geoscience and in the creation, integration, application, and transfer of knowledge in these fields. We aim to be at the forefront of scientific research, to reach a broad audience from students to specialists, and to provide knowledge useful  society. We believe that research and the creation of new knowledge are intimately inter-related with, and essential to, our programs of graduate and undergraduate education, to the Wisconsin Idea, and to the extension of the Wisconsin Idea to the world.

What happened to Geology and Geophysics?

Since the formation of the Department of Geology, Mining, and Metallurgy at the University of Wisconsin in 1870, there has been a series of ten name changes associated mainly with program divisions and mergers, leading up to the 1967 change to Department of Geology and Geophysics.  The current faculty believe that “Geoscience” is a more unified and inclusive term than “Geology and Geophysics” that captures the range of subdisciplines now represented in the department, including geochemistry, geobiology, hydrogeology, geomicrobiology, astrobiology, and nanogeoscience, as well as geology and geophysics.  Paraphrasing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we aren’t just in geology and geophysics anymore.  We consider Geoscience to be a forward-looking name for our department in the 21st century.