Department of Geoscience Five-Year Strategic Plan 2020-2024

Executive Summary

The Department of Geoscience is among the world’s leaders in Earth science research and education. Our research programs span sedimentary geology, glaciology, hydrogeology, geophysics, geochemistry, geomicrobiology, biogeochemistry, paleoclimatology, structural geology, surface processes, and the new subdiscipline of geoinformatics. Beyond its traditional applications for energy and mineral exploration and extraction, the importance of the geosciences has been amplified in recent years by accelerating, anthropogenically induced changes in Earth’s climate and critical life-support systems and the urgent need to understand how our planet has responded to similar changes in the geological past. Given the inherently multidisciplinary nature of the geosciences, our departmental faculty, staff, and students collaborate with personnel in numerous other campus units, including Anthropology, Astronomy, Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences, Bacteriology, Botany, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Sciences, Geography, Integrated Biology, Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, and Soil Science departments, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. At the graduate level, we have trained generations of leaders in academia and industry. At the undergraduate level, we train numerous geoscience majors and non-science students. At the broadest level, embodying the Wisconsin Idea that university research should broadly benefit all citizens of the state and beyond, we collaborate closely with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and scientists in Wisconsin offices of the U.S. Geological Survey, and engage the public broadly through the departmental Geology Museum, via media coverage of our faculty/staff research, and through other focused outreach efforts.


Our departmental mission is to investigate and disseminate information on the structure, chemistry, physics, and evolution of the Earth, life on Earth, and the interactions between the physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape the Earth now, in the past, and in the future. To serve this mission, we strive for breadth and excellence in our coverage of geoscientific sub-disciplines and endeavor to create, integrate, apply, and transfer knowledge within and between fields.  We aim to be a leader in research and to communicate our work broadly to the public, students, and specialists. In so doing, we strive to provide essential knowledge and training for advancing the resilience, sustainability, and stewardship of our planet, its ecosystems, and human society.

Plan summary.

Our five-year plan for the department’s research enterprise is centered primarily on our recent and projected new faculty hires, new technical staffing, and an initiative to sustain and grow a robust geoinformatics research and training program. Our educational initiatives are focused on broadening student course access via new summer and academic-year courses and sustaining and supporting a new visiting international student program for undergraduate geoscience students from China’s top universities. Other noteworthy objectives include improving our departmental diversity, climate, and inclusiveness, working with our Board of Visitors on a new gift-fund development campaign, and using our space in Weeks Hall more efficiently.

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