Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

About Us


Earth and Environmental Sciences Faculty 2018-2019

Left to Right, Row 1: David Kohlstedt, Cara Santelli, Donna Whitney, Larry Edwards, Sally Kohlstedt

Row 2: Max Bezada, Bruce Moskowitz, Emi Ito, Ikuko Wada, Peter Kang, Anna Graber, Kent Kirkby, Crystal Ng

Row 3: Tony Runkel, Justin Revenaugh, Andy Wickert, Bill Seyfried, Christian Teyssier, Chris Paola, Marc Hirschmann, Jake Bailey, and David Fox

Not Pictured: Josh Feinberg, Harvey Thorleifson, Peter Hudleston, and Katsumi Matsumoto 


Mission Statement: The Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences addresses vital societal problems from regional to global levels and conducts curiosity-driven research that forms the foundation of 21st century discoveries and innovation in our field. Our research focus is integrated with teaching and service activities, creating strengths in our core mission. Our department strives to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equity through our teaching, research and service activities 


The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences falls under the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota.  The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is involved in three basic activities: scientific research, education, and community service. Bachelor of Science degrees in Earth Sciences and in Environmental Geosciences are offered through the College of Science and Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts. In all cases students are required to complete a comprehensive core curriculum in basic earth science and to obtain a strong background in mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Undergraduate students are mainly from Minnesota, and many go on to graduate studies at major universities across the country. (go to Earth and Environmental Sciences Undergraduate Programs)


The graduate student body is made up of students from many parts of the U.S.A., and about 15% are international students. Many of our alumni have become well established in careers in private industry, public agencies, and education. Research and teaching are closely interrelated within the Department, especially at the more advanced levels of instruction. Thus graduate students and faculty interact freely in research projects, and graduate students are encouraged to develop independent research projects. The typical graduate advising load of faculty members is three to five students. (go to Earth and Environmental Sciences Graduate Programs) 


In the area of public service, the faculty advises state agencies and communities in matters of waste disposal, lake restoration, groundwater protection, conservation of natural resources, and exploration of the state's mineral resources.  In addition, the faculty and graduate students in the department cordially make time for the general public in the identification of rocks and possible meteorites.




Head of the N.H. Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Head of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences:  

Donna L. Whitney


Director of Graduate Studies:
David L. Fox


Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Joshua M. Feinberg


Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Advisory Board




The study of geology at the University of Minnesota began in 1872 by an act of the State Legislature directing the Regents to establish a Minnesota Geological and Natural History Survey to investigate the geology of Minnesota and make that information available to its citizens. In the spring of that year Newton Horace Winchell came to Minnesota as the State Geologist, and in the fall he started teaching as the University's first Professor of Geology and Mineralogy.  However, the Department of Geology and Mineralogy was not officially established until 1874.  The School of Earth Sciences was established in 1962 to include the Department of Geology and Geophysics (name changed to Department of Earth Sciences in 2010), the Minnesota Geological Survey,, and the  Limnological Research Center. Then in 1990, the Institute for Rock Magnetism became its fourth component.


The numerous contributions made by N. H. Winchell to the study of geology at the University of Minnesota were commemorated in 1988 with the renaming of the School as the Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth Sciences. Since Winchell's time many illustrious names in North American geosciences have been associated with the School, either as instructors or students. By its 125th anniversary in 1999, the Department had graduated over 2000 students.


Built in 1887, Pillsbury Hall is the second oldest building on the Twin Cities Campus of the University of Minnesota and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings as part of the "old campus district".  Up until August of 2017, Pillsbury Hall has been the proud home to the School of Earth Sciences.  (read more about Pillsbury Hall)In August of 2017, we moved to the newly renovated John T. Tate Hall which we share with the School of Physics and Astronomy. John T. Tate Hall was originally completed in 1927 with two additions added in the 1960's. The recently completed renovation includes a large auditorium, about 30 research labs, 20 teaching labs, and 10 general purpose classroooms.  Tate Hall now houses apoproximately 350 faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and graduate students, as well as, hundreds of visiting researchers.  The department officially celebrated the grand opening of John. T. Tate Hall in March on 2018 with a private ribbon cutting and two days of public tours. In 2019, the university approved the addition of a new undergradaue degree option in Environmental Geoscience, with the department offering the degree in both a Bachelors of Science and a Bachelors of Arts. Following the addition of the Environmental Geoscience degrees, the university gave approval for the school and the department to change our name to the N.H. Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.   We are very excited to continue to build our rich history of teaching, research, and outreach under our new name and in our newly established home in John T. Tate Hall.