About the Department

Whether you're interested in studying the world beneath your feet, or worlds farther away, the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at Washington University provides the tools for understanding the processes that shape our planet and other solar system bodies. Understanding the Earth system is also the key to addressing many environmental challenges, including climate change, water quality, and sources of energy. Thus, as an earth scientist, you are uniquely poised to help solve some of society's most pressing problems through careers in government, non-profit organizations, academia, and industry. Because planets are complex systems, earth and planetary sciences is by necessity an interdisciplinary field. We apply biology, chemistry, physics, and math to investigate topics such as early life on Earth, the structure of the Earth's deep interior, the nature of contaminant transport, and the evidence for water on Mars.

Our faculty are leaders in their fields, and they are passionate about their work and training the next generation of scientists. Our state-of-the-art laboratory facilities allow our faculty to push the boundaries of their fields and give our students the chance to do their own research. We are proud to offer undergraduates majors in geology, geochemistry, geophysics, and environmental earth sciences, as well as minors in earth and planetary sciences and environmental earth sciences. For graduate students, our doctoral program is medium-sized and nationally-ranked with opportunities for scholarship in many areas, including geology, geobiology, geochemistry, geophysics, cosmochemistry and planetary science. We invite you to explore our website to get to know us better.

"We’re exploring Mars to better understand Earth. On Mars, we can learn about geological processes and environmental processes — maybe habitability, maybe life, that remains to be seen — for a period of time that’s lost on Earth."

―RAY ARVIDSON James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences
Professor Jeff Catalano: Heavy Metals in the Wetlands

Professor Jeff Catalano: Heavy Metals in the Wetlands

Professor Bob Criss On Our Rivers

Professor Bob Criss On Our Rivers