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How geoscientists help us understand the earth

OSU Research Matters is a bi-weekly look inside the work of Oklahoma State University faculty, staff and students.

The Boone Pickens School of Geology is focused on making a positive impact on Oklahoma, the nation, and the world through an integrated understanding of the earth – particularly in the fields of petroleum, energy and environmental geosciences. To help their mission, Oklahoma State recently introduced two new degree programs in geophysics and environmental geosciences. As a geology major, you have a total of four concentrations to choose from.

In this episode, Meghan Robinson speaks with Dr. Camelia Knapp, the head of the school, to learn more about everything the major has to offer.


Dr. Camelia Knapp, head of the Boone Pickens School of Geology at Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University
Dr. Camelia Knapp, head of the Boone Pickens School of Geology at Oklahoma State University

KNAPP: We have an overarching goal, and that's the Boone Pickens School of Geology to be a leading academic institution in the fields of energy and environmental geosciences. We also want to make a positive impact upon Oklahoma, the nation, and the world through an integrated understanding of the earth. So, all of this we feel that are relevant to people here in Oklahoma as a land grant institution. We like to capitalize on what we have to offer here at OSU and particularly in the Boone Pickens School of Geology and how to build the workforce for the future.

ROBINSON: What types of careers do geoscientists go into?

KNAPP: Oklahoma is an energy state. We have lots of oil and gas. And, we are very lucky because of that. I spent most of my career at the University of South Carolina, a coastal state, with lots of coastal resources, but very little to no oil and gas.

So, coming here to Oklahoma, as a geoscientist. I came to appreciate how important natural resources are, and we've been instructing our students in oil and gas — lots of our research has been in oil and gas. As I said, now we are broadening because the whole energy landscape has been changing at the national level and at the international level as well.

So, our students are still finding employment with oil and gas companies. But, the environmental field has been growing. So, our students learn about water resources and management, groundwater in particular, and it's part of hydrogeology. So, there is a growing job market in environmental sciences and environmental services.

ROBINSON: How can geoscientists impact the world?

KNAPP: We are relevant in finding natural resources, and that's not only oil and gas and coal, but critical minerals. We hear how important critical minerals are, and geoscientists are very critical to finding to find this rare earth minerals. We know that the oceans are still pretty much undiscovered, and the geoscientists are looking not only at the sea floor, but what's under the oceans, what's in the water column.

We know that geoscientists have a big impact on the environment, and we do teach, as I said, environmental geology, environmental geophysics — what are those central anthropogenic, potential impacts on the environment, carbon storage. So, all of those are very important and these are skills that geoscientists develop through their training, and then they're able to transfer them into the job market.

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Meghan Robinson is the host of OSU Research Matters and the Multimedia Reporter/ Producer for Inside OSU, the official streaming platform of Oklahoma State University.
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