Alumni Story – Dayton Dove (’03)

How cool to have a job where you get your own “DD” hard hat!

Read on for the Dayton’s story and some quality advice for current geology students!

Eight years on from College of Charleston I now find myself as a bona fide marine geologist, and I’m still wondering how I got here. To get started I should say that my four years studying Geology at College of Charleston were amazing, and absolutely gave me the expertise, but perhaps more importantly, the enthusiasm to pursue a career in geosciences.  However, when I left CofC I was not so much thinking “I’m aggressively pursuing this or that career-path”. I was more thinking “I’ve quite liked this marine geophysics project, perhaps I could go and do more of this sort of thing”.

I realized very quickly at CofC that I enjoyed Geology (after transferring from Business at USC!). I liked taking the perspective of deep time, the historical element, the occasional detective-like aspect of the science. And I relished the concept of mapping, of visualizing natural processes occurring in 3-D, or I suppose 4-D. In particular the field course in Utah cemented my love of mapping (as I know it did for many others), and using all the tools we’d gathered up to that point from structural to paleobiology to reconstruct the geological history of a landscape. In my final year I conducted an independent study with Steve Jaume and Erin Beutel where I was introduced to marine geophysical data, and the large-scale scientific questions you could tackle with such data.  I never had a huge affinity for the oceans, but before I knew it I found myself applying to grad schools, exclusively looking to study marine geology and geophysics.  I was not entirely naive of my career prospects, and CofC professors were excellent at giving us an idea of the range of paths available to us.  I did not know exactly what I wanted to do following grad school, but I knew that this line of research would keep many options open to me, and I still adhere to this philosophy: Find something you enjoy, but don’t paint yourself into a corner.

In the end I went to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks where I studied the tectonic history of the Amerasian Basin in the Arctic Ocean.  During this time I participated in two research cruises, one around the Aleutian Islands, and one in the Arctic where we acquired multi-channel seismic, gravity, and bathymetry data over 52 days! It was my task to process, interpret, and report on this data, in return for which they awarded me with a master’s degree.  At this point I had three general options: carry on and do a PhD, join the petroleum industry, or something else. I opted for something else, and along with various personal circumstances, decided to take a job with a geophysical survey company in the UK which carries out a range of work from offshore renewables, to cable routes, to you guessed it, petroleum work.  This was rewarding work, and they were paying me to be a geologist, which struck me as bizarre and that I must have tricked them.  Irregardless, it was not ideal as I was going offshore a lot (more than 6months a year).

I came across an opportunity to join the British Geological Survey, which to cut a long story short, has been ideal.  I’ve been here now for four years and I’m involved in a diverse range of activities. Science-wise, I’ve moved more to Quaternary science (same tools, different frequencies and time-scales) and recently have been doing a lot of work on the glacial histories of continental margins both in Europe, and the Arctic.  We also do a lot of habitat mapping, work which in the end underpins policy decisions about the use of our seas.  We carry out a lot of governmental and commercial contracts, from providing expertise on how the regional geology affects wind farm emplacement, to how aggregate extraction may affect the seabed environment and other users e.g. commercial fisheries.  I also do some science administration and serve as a science coordinator for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) in the UK.  I now go offshore about two months per year, surveying from vessels between 7m and 100m long, depending on the project.  It’s always more rewarding to be involved in a project where you’ve had a hand in the acquisition, before processing and interpreting the data. You better understand the uses, and limitations of the data. This also provides the opportunity to travel to fascinating, often beautiful places.

To wrap up, I can only recommend that you become a geologist, what else is there. Despite the global recession, Geoscience bucks the trend and there continues to be a deficit of skilled geologists within many of the sub-fields.  Also, don’t forget to take your math seriously…you won’t regret it.

Thank you for sharing Dayton!

Rockin’ Geology Alumni – James Weeg (’03)

Jim on the job at a Waste Water Treatment Plant at NAS Pensacola.


Our College of Charleston Geology Alumni from the class of 2003, James Weeg, took a few minutes out of his busy schedule as a Professional Geologist with ADVENT Environmental, Inc. to answer a few questions.

What’s your educational background?

Compliments of the US Army (moving every 18 months to three years) I have attended the University of South Carolina, Fayetteville State University, Jefferson Community College, and finally the College of Charleston. I was taking classes in the evening while I was still Active Duty in the Army. I had finished my Associates Degree (Math/Science) at JCC in Watertown, NY shortly before I retired from the Army. My wife, daughter and I moved to Summerville (her family is there) and I began attending the College of Charleston to finish my Bachelors degree in Geology. I graduated (BS in Geology) in 2003 at the young age of 39. I went directly into the MES program (emphasis in geophysics and hydrogeology) and graduated with an MS in 2005.

I found the programs (undergrad and graduate) at CofC to be great fit for a non-traditional student like myself, with professors and staff that actively helped me achieve my goals, even though my personal schedule and requirements were very convoluted at times.

How did you arrive in your current job?

The MES program gives you the option of following either an internship-track or a thesis-track. I decided to follow the internship-track since I did not plan on pursuing a doctorate and figured an internship would help me get my foot in the door for future employment.

At the end of my first year in the MES Program I sent out resumes to every environmental company in town. The only one that responded was Advent Environmental, Inc. (my current employer). I interviewed with Mark Sellers, P.G. (one of the owners of the company) and he hired me on the spot. Mark made it clear that I could call what I was doing an “internship” but he considered me to be a permanent hire.

Since that time I have gone from being a Staff Scientist to a Project Geologist and have become a professional geologist.

What is the coolest part of what you do?

Easily the coolest thing about environmental geology is simply the strange places you get to travel to, and the strange things you get to do there. I have done geophysics in support of ordnance removal operations on the former Navy bombing range on Vieques Island (Puerto Rico). I’ve done geotechnical drilling next to a nuclear reactor at the Savannah River Site. I’ve done well installations and groundwater sampling next to the active runway at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, with F-18 fighters launching feet from where I was working.

Environmental geology is so comprehensive as a field that I never know from project to project where I will be or what I will be doing, and I love that.

Thanks again Jim!

Earth is Geology’s Classroom

Growing up in Hawaii, I’ve been to my fair share of beaches. They’re great; they’re peaceful; they’re fun. Until last week, I never would have thought of the beach as a classroom and a map of clues to show you the history of the area. Lucky for me, I chauffeured a field trip for Leslie “Doc” Sautter’s Marine Geology Lab to the beach and got to see the beach and its coastal processes in action.

Doc is known as the queen of all things marine here at the College of Charleston Geology department and now I know why. I learned a lot in those few hours! It confirmed to me how amazing our faculty is at what they do. I may have forgotten most of the terminology I learned that day, but I don’t think I’ll forget how the processes work, how coastal processes affect humans, and how humans in turn affect the coast. More importantly, I know some neat tidbits that I can share with my friends and family when we go to the beach.

Beach terminology

These are my favorite takeaways from the field trip:

Inlets are dangerous! As the tide goes down (ebb tide – Wow! I remember a bit of the terminology), the channel becomes more narrow and turbulent. It can take a person down when they’re not looking. We stopped at Breach Inlet, right past Sullivan’s Island in the Isle of Palms, that’s claimed many lives. BE CAREFUL!

Dunes need plants to keep the sand and remain a dune. Don’t go traipsing around in them to topple them. Don’t cut the plants, even if they’re pretty. It is awesome to see how some grasses grow with the dunes. You can see how as the top of the grass is covered by sand, it grows another root ball so it can grow taller again. We saw one at the edge of the dune that had three root balls. I had no idea!

Other cool things we saw:

Ripples in the sun

– The inlet’s Ebb Tidal Delta and its swash (sand) bars

Bubble sand!

– Wavy patterns in the sand called ripples that show how fast the water was going

Bubble sand! This is where air has bubbled up through saturated sand, leaving voids.

– Waves refracting, showing you how the current (and longshore transport) is coming down the coast

I love that our faculty and department have the resources and gumption to go out and show students that the Earth is a geology classroom. Hopefully it was as memorable a lesson for the rest of the students as it was for me. I can’t wait to chauffeur for more geology field trips!

Doc Sautter’s Marine Geology field trip – Fall 2012 – Sullivan’s Island

Here are a few upcoming field trips and field opportunities that I know of:

  • Walking tours of Charleston to see old earthquake damage
  • Mineralogy field trip to wine country in NC to see how topography and soil affects grape varieties and harvests
  • Congaree National Park trip for hydrology field research
  • Class during winter break to study carbonate environments at the Gerace Research Centre on the island of San Salvador in The Bahamas
  • Summer class to the Galapagos Islands for “Volcanoes in the Footsteps of Darwin”

It’s going to be hard to choose! What field experience has been your favorite? What field opportunity are you looking forward to the most?

Top Five Lessons Learned as a Non-Geologist Working in Geology

I didn’t know what to expect when I moved down to Charleston last October. I had never heard of the College of Charleston until I decided I wanted to live in Charleston. And Geology was a class I barely remembered taking in college to fulfill my undergrad requirement more than ten years ago. And now here I was…the new Office Manager for the department.

Wow, was I in for a treat! I am constantly amazed, awed, and surprised at what goes on in this department – even if I don’t always understand the geological aspect of it. In fact, every morning I get an email with a Geology word of the day and I normally don’t even know half of the terms in the definition. Luckily, this has only piqued my interest more. I can’t wait to share some of the amazing things that go on at the College of Charleston’s Geology Department.

So for my first blog…here are the top five lessons I have learned as a non-geologist working in geology, thus far:


1)   Geology is more than just rocks!

It’s global change, evolution, fossils, shore erosion, seafloor mapping, earthquakes, volcanoes, water resources, pollution, remote sensing, planetary geology, and TONS of other things! Keep reading future blogs to find out more.


2)   Don’t tell geologists that you don’t like bones

Because they’ll wind up on your desk. Or on top of your candy jar! YUCK! Now I have a bunch of bones outside my desk, although I have to admit that the “daddy” pteranodon is growing on me…


Pteranodon family with “dad” flying in the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building (SSMB) Atrium.

 3)   Geologists know how to party!

We’ve had parties for the opening of exhibits, close of exhibits, birthdays, guest speakers, awards, a successful year, and graduation! One party even featured a custom-brewed, geologically named beer – IMPACT! IPA thanks to Holy City Brewing.

4)   Geology humor can be very funny (even to non-geologists)

geology humor

This will make even a non-geologist laugh!

 5)   Geology Rocks!

There are AMAZING students, WONDERFUL professors, CELEBRATIONS, a LAID BACK atmosphere, ALWAYS excitement.


So you have an idea of what’s to come in this Geology blog, here are some future topics:

  • Student & professor spotlights
  • Course spotlights
  • Upcoming guest speakers & events
  • Recaps of cool events with links to great photos
  • Equipment spotlights
  • What graduates are to now
  • Rock/Specimen spotlights
  • Student & Professor Kudos!
  • Neat things students & professors are presenting
  • Guest posts on all things Geologic!

Stay tuned for more blogs!  “Like” our Facebook page for day-to-day humor and excitement. I’ll make sure to link it to new blog posts.

Visiting Scholar from MIT to talk about the World’s Oceans

Two presentations coming up for you to attend!

(1)  Join the College of Charleston Office of Sustainability for a Green Bag Lunch featuring Deborah Cramer, Visiting Scholar of the Earth Systems Initiative at MIT

Thursday, November 17th
12:00 Noon
Stern Center Ballroom

Deborah Cramer will be discussing her work on the world’s ocean systems and how these issues relate to our concerns.

Snacks and Drinks will be provided, but bringing a lunch is encouraged.  Please email any questions to


(2) Public Lecture: “The Sea Around YouWhat Does the Health of the Sea Have to Do with Us”

Thursday, November 17, 7:00-8:00 pm
Speaker:    Deborah Cramer
Title:            The Sea Around You: What Does the Health of the Sea Have to Do with Us?
Location:  New Science Center room 129 (auditorium)
When:          Thursday, Nov. 17, 7-8 pm

The Charleston community depends on the ocean – economically, recreationally, gastronomically. Ever wonder how the health of the ocean will impact you? The College of Charleston will host author and scientific thought leader Deborah Cramer on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in room 129 of the School of Sciences and Mathematics building. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Cramer is a visiting scholar at MIT’s Earth System Initiative.   She will be presenting some of the world’s finest marine photography from her book Smithsonian Ocean:  Our Water Our World (Smithsonian Books/HarperCollins) and will discuss the many ways all life, including ours, depends on the ocean; how we, a single species are altering the nature of the ocean itself, and why that matters. This book shines new light on the meaning of the sea in our lives, inviting people to consider how all life, including
ours, depends on the sea.

Two-time Pulitzer prize-winning biologist E.O. Wilson calls this book, “best in its class.” It was published to coincide with the opening of the new, permanent Sant Ocean Hall at
the National Museum of Natural History, the country’s most visited museum. Ideas and themes from Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water Our World are now being adapted in school science curricula. More information is available at a website emerging from the book and recommended for teachers,

“The MES program is honored to host Deborah Cramer at the College of Charleston,” says Tim Callahan, MES program director. “She speaks about her writing and the sea
on both sides of the Atlantic, at science and maritime museums, and at major environmental and teachers’ organizations. We hope her lecture will provide the opportunity for a larger discussion, both on campus and in the community, about the issues she raises.”

Deborah Cramer writes about science, nature, and the environment. Nobel prize winner Al Gore said of her natural history of the Atlantic, Great Waters, (W.W. Norton), “I urge everyone to read this book, act on its message and pass on its teachings.” Marcia McNutt, head of the United States Geological Survey, wrote in Science, “I would recommend it to anyone who proposes to be an informed citizen of Planet Earth.”

For more information, contact Tim Callahan at 843.953.2000 or

Sponsored by the Environmental Studies Graduate Program, the Environmental Studies Minor Program, the Graduate Program in Marine Biology, and the CofC Office of Sustainability.

Flyer online at:

Map and Directions online at:

College of Charleston to Host Smithsonian Experts and Fossil Identification Session

The College of Charleston’s Natural History Museum will host three museum specialists from the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Natural History Department of Paleobiology on November 1, 2011.

The public is invited to attend the free forum and fossil identification session from 1-4 p.m. in the Museum.

Experts in terrestrial and marine mammals, as well as sharks and other fish, they will be available for identification of vertebrate fossils. The public is also invite to bring  “finds” they may have around the house for identification.

David Bohaska, a specialist on marine mammals, will give a lecture entitled “Evolution of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises” starting at 2:30p.m.   He will discuss their ancestry, the major groups of whales (ancient, toothed, and baleen), and provide examples of diversity in the fossil record.

Also on site for fossil identification will be Fred Grady (terrestrial mammal fossil specialist) and Robert Purdy (fossil sharks and fish).

The College of Charleston’s Natural History Museum is located at 202 Calhoun Street.

New Science Center
202 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC 29401

1:00 Fossil identification on 2nd floor near museum entrance
2:30 Lecture by David Bohaska in First Floor Lecture Hall
3:30 Fossil identification


Welcome, Stacey!

Please welcome our new Office Manger, Stacey Yanagawa, to the geology family! Students, staff, and faculty, please come by and introduce yourself!!

Mineralogy field trip 2011!!

Dr. Bob’s mineralogy class spent the weekend visiting the geology along  the Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina.  Students studied  minerals and rocks from Late Proterozoic rifts along with minerals that contributed to recent slope failures along the Parkway.   Ahead of the pending storms off the coast, their inland trip kept them in the upper 30s on Saturday night around the campfire with a variety of experiences being shared by everyone.  Students will use samples collected on the field trip to complete a mini-research project using  scanning electron microscopy, reflectance spectroradiometry, or polarizing microscopy while interpreting the role of minerals in a larger geologic context.

Welcome to the Department of Geology!

Welcome to the new geoBlog at the College of Charleston.  The Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences has just upgraded their website and are starting to put together announcements, news, alumni information, and other tidbits that we hope you find useful.  Please feel free to contact me if you have news you think is post-worthy!