Career Panels

During the spring semester, the department holds a career panel event for the benefit of students considering an academic or non-academic career in the Earth or environmental sciences. Students are polled to gauge interest in the types of jobs they wish to learn about. We invite professionals in the Earth and Environmental Geo-Sciences to join us and provide information and advice to students about opportunities in the public and private sectors of geoscience employment. Alumni from our department make up the bulk of the presenters and we are proud of their accomplishments and thankful for the time and effort they put into giving back in this manner.

If you are interested in serving on the panel, please contact the department at <esci@umn.edu>.  

2021 - Mining & Materials, Sample Analyses, and Natural Hazards

  • Chris Braaten (BA 2003), American Engineering Testing
  • Megan (Wang) Sumiejski (BS 2019), Cambria
  • Eric Waage, Hennepin County Emergency Management
  • Christina Morrison, Tiller Corp.
  • Eric Goergen (PhD 2009), Thermo Fisher

2021- Academia (all are alumni from our department)

  • Alan Chapman (BS 2005), Macalester College
  • Stephanie Day (PhD 2021), North Dakota State University
  • Karen Gran (MS 2000), University of Minnesota-Duluth
  • Lindsay Iredale (MS 2005), Normandale Community College
  • Andrew Luhmann (PhD 2011), Wheaton College (Illinois)
  • Rory McFadden (PhD 2009), Gustavus Adolphus College (formerly at Salem State University)

2020- Private Business, National Agencies and the Outlook Going Forward (all are alumni from our department)

  • Joel Poppert (BS 2004) is an entrepreneur in the Denver area. Joel about his experiences working in the geothermal and renewable energy industries.
  • Adam Kubat (BS 2015) is a Hydrogeologist for WSP also in the Denver area. Adam spoke to careers in environmental remediation.
  • Cindy Frickle (MS 2015) is a Geologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C. She gave her perspective on research and environmental regulation at a large federal agency.

2020- Museums

  • Pete Makovicky, Professor in our department who joined our faculty after many years as a curator at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Pete offered his perspective on large, national public museums. In addition to research and outreach, Pete has experience with major exhibit development.
  • Laura Vietti (PhD 2014) is the Museum and Collections Manager at the University of Wyoming Geological Museum in Laramie, WY. Laura represents smaller, more regional public museums, in this case associated with a flagship state university.
  • Ioan "Nono" Lascu (PhD 2011) is a Research Geologist at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Nono gave his perspective on research and outreach at a (the) large, national public museum.

2020- U.S. and State Geological Surveys

  • Amy Block, Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) (Precambrian geology)
  • Tim Cowdery (MS 1997), USGS-MN (hydrogeology)
  • Steve DeLong, USGS-Menlo Park & MN (geomorphology)
  • Benjamin Drenth, USGS-Denver (geophysics)
  • Barbara Lusardi, MGS (Quaternary geology)
  • Tony Runkel, MGS (hydrogeology/sed-strat)
  • Peter Valley (MS 2001), USGS-Reston (hard rock geology/mapping)

2019- Exploring Alternate (non-academic) Careers

  • Mindy Erickson, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Dan Holte (BS 1985), Braun Intertec
  • Carrie Jennings (MS 1989, PhD 1996), Freshwater Society
  • Chuck Mosher (BS 1978, MS 1979, PhD 1980), ConocoPhillips
  • Jon Tortomasi (BS 2000), Jacobs (formerly CH2M)
  • Jennifer Engstrom (MS 2005), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Keith Rapp, Pinnacle Engineering
  • Shanna Schmidt (BS 2003), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Ben Sheets (PhD 2004), Barr Engineering
  • Cathy Stott (BS 2000), Burns & McDonnell

2019- Hosted by CSE Career Services, Career Paths, Student Engagement, Internship and Job Search Strategied

  • Harshida White, Senior Process Engineer, General Mills
  • Stephen Ruiz, Engineering Lead/Supervisor, Andersen Corporation
  • Griffin Dempsey, Engineer-in-Training, Burns & McDonnell
  • Alexis Harkins (BS 2013, Earth Sciences), Hydrogeologist, Stantec

2019- As part of the "Standards and Practices for Professional Geoscientists" course (ESci 5805), all students were invited to join these discussions

  • Mining and Mineral Exploration -  several representatives from Big Rock Exploration, a St. Paul-based company that provides a range of geoscience services for mineral exploration and mining companies around the world. This company was founded by two geology students from Winona State, Rob Bergmann and Brian Lentz, and they have hired several ESCI alumni as their company has grown. Names that may be familiar to our department include Brandon Isakson (ESCI ’12), who is now Big Rock’s Director of Operations, as well as Aubrey Lee (’11) and Liz Roepke (’18).
  • Environmental Consulting -  Joel Thompson from Stantec and Mike Schemmel from Bay West. The environmental consulting firms each have their own niche and provide a unique perspective on the many ways that a geoscience degree can be used to launch a career in environmental consulting. Both companies have a history of hiring ESCI students. including Alexis (Iverson) Harkins (’13), who works as a hydrogeologist at Stantec, and Willa Samuelson (‘19), Stefanie Mayer (‘14), and Nathan Gruman (‘04) who all work at Bay West.

2016- Geoscience Careers in Private Firms and Public Agencies

  • Nathan Gruman graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Geology.  After graduating Nathan worked as a petrographic technician and then for a couple of environmental consulting companies, with the last being his current employer – Braun Intertec.  Nathan has provided emergency response and environmental consulting services in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.  Currently, he is the Corporate Safety Specialist for Braun Intertec.  This involves using his knowledge of the industry that he gained from field experience to design programs for mitigating workplace hazards. Nathan is an active member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG), American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), Geological Society of America (GSA), and the Minnesota Groundwater Association (MGWA).  He holds licenses as a professional geologist, a monitoring well contractor, and an asbestos inspector.  Additionally, Nathan is a certified professional geologist through AIPG and is HAZWOPER and OSHA-30 trained.
  • Chuck Mosher received his BS (1978), MS (1979), and PhD (1980) degrees from the University of Minnesota Department of Geology and Geophysics.  He began his career as a geophysicist with ARCO Oil and Gas Company in 1980, where he held research and management positions in the Geophysical Research and Information Technology departments. From 2000 to 2003, he worked for Chevron Technology Corporation as a research geophysicist. In 2003, he joined ConocoPhillips as a Geoscience Fellow in the Subsurface Technology organization. In his present position, Chuck is responsible for assuring the technical quality of research and technical service projects involving Geophysical Technology at ConocoPhillips. His areas of expertise include the design and execution of projects in seismic data acquisition, processing, and imaging. His current research interests include compressive sensing, seismic survey design, and seismic processing and imaging.  He is currently the ConocoPhillips representative for a number of joint industry projects at the University of Texas, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of British Columbia.
  • Shanna Schmitt graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2003 with a B.S. in Geology.  She has been working as a geologist since then, first at Terracon Consultants and then at the MN Pollution Control Agency in the Brownfields Program.  Shanna is licensed as a Professional Geologist in MN, and a Certified Professional Geologist with AIPG.  She has worked on a variety of redevelopment and remediation sites that have included Phase I ESAs, Phase II Investigations, hazardous material surveys, monitoring, RAPs, implementation reports, stormwater infiltration on contaminated sites, institutional controls, etc.  She is currently working on Brownfield sites, a few Superfund sites, and an Institutional Controls team with ITRC.  Shanna is the current President of the MN Section of AIPG and is serving as an AIPG Advisory Board Representative in 2016.
  • Cathy Stott is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (2000) with degrees in geology and geological engineering.  She is licensed in Minnesota as both a professional engineer and professional geologist.   As an environmental consultant, she has worked on investigation and remediation projects across the country.  She has extensive experience in environmental site assessments, remediation system design, and performance monitoring.  She is currently a Senior Environmental Engineer  at Burns & McDonnell’s Minneapolis-Saint Paul office.  Burns & McDonnell is 100% employee owned, full-service engineering firm with over 5,000 employees nationwide.

2015- Geoscience Careers in Private Firms and Public Agencies

  • Dan Holte (BS 1985) is a Vice President and a member of the Braun Intertec Board of Directors, and the Strategic Management Team at Braun Intertec. He also serves as a principal scientist in the Environmental Consulting Group at Braun Intertec where his clients are involved with facility acquisitions, property redevelopment and environmental compliance assessments. His duties also include strategic transactional consulting, technical review of project scopes and serving as a regulatory agency liaison. Since joining Braun Intertec in 1988, Dan has cultivated a client list that includes urban redevelopers, private equity firms and foundations. Dan received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of St. Thomas.  He enjoys outdoor recreational activities, bicycling and playing bridge.
  • Bruce D. Johnson (BS 1974) is a Principal Geologist at the Summit Envirosolutions, Inc. St. Paul, Minnesota office, with over 29 years of experience in environmental assessment and remediation projects related to real estate, petroleum, and mining activities throughout the United States.  Mr. Johnson manages projects with soil- and groundwater-related issues, including industrial, petroleum, and agricultural chemical impacts and voluntary cleanups, and has implemented innovative remedial solutions. Mr. Johnson has served as an expert witness on cases involving the petroleum and mining issues. He has also served as president of the local chapter of American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) and was the Geologic Representative on the Minnesota Board of AELSLAGID. He was a Subject Matter Expert (SME) with the Council of Examiners (COE) of the Association of State Board of Geologist (ASBOG). Mr. Johnson is a licensed Professional Geologist in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Utah, along with being a Certified Groundwater Professional in Iowa. Johnson got his start with a degree in Geology from the University of Minnesota.
  • Laura Scheid is a licensed professional geologist in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Indiana with expertise in geology, hydrogeology, environmental geology, and geophysics.  Ms. Scheid started her career with the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia as a Research Assistant.  Now at WSP for nearly 17 years, Ms. Scheid applies her hydrogeological expertise to projects involving: petroleum and solvent storage facilities; existing and former manufacturing facilities; releases from petroleum pipelines and terminals; hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities; agricultural releases, underground storage tank releases; and landfills.   Ms. Scheid also assists with environmental compliance projects, human health risk assessments, and conducts Phase I due diligence evaluations as part of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Shanna Schmitt graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.S. in Geology in 2003.  Shanna has been working as a geologist since 2003, first at Terracon Consultants and then at the MN Pollution Control Agency in the Brownfields Program.  Shanna is licensed as a Professional Geologist in MN and will soon be a Certified PG through AIPG.  Shanna has worked on a variety of projects including Phase I ESAs, Phase II Investigations, Hazardous Material Surveys, monitoring, RAPs, Implementation Reports, institutional controls, etc.  Shanna is currently learning the details of incremental sampling and the details of the Superfund Program.
  • Catherine J. Stott is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (2000) with degrees in geology and geological engineering.  She is licensed in Minnesota as both a professional engineer and professional geologist.   As an environmental consultant, she has worked on investigation and remediation projects across the country.  She has extensive experience in environmental site assessments, remediation system design, and performance monitoring. She is employed as a Senior Environmental Engineer at Burns & McDonnell’s Minneapolis-Saint Paul office.  Burns & McDonnell is 100% employee owned, full-service engineering firm with over 5,000 employees nationwide.