Inaugurated as the Buffalo Normal School preparing teachers in 1871, Buffalo State has always had a focus on natural science and science-teacher preparation, constructing its first dedicated science building in 1888.
Currently the Earth Sciences and Science Education (ESSE) Department is moving into brand new laboratory facilities in the Science and Mathematics Complex (SAMC) featuring four new geological research laboratories, a collections room, and a state-of-the-art, 42-foot dome containing a 48-seat signature facility—the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium, under the leadership of associate professor Kevin Williams.
The modern Earth Sciences and Science Education Department was founded in 1965 when Physics separated from a “General Science Department” leaving a combined department led by Professor Irv Tesmer, a paleontologist.
In the early 1960s, Buffalo State changed format from a teacher’s college into a liberal arts college, inaugurating degrees in the separate science disciplines. Since then, ESSE has been a very active department, with perhaps its best-known scholar being Professor Carl K. Seyfert Jr., a structural geologist specializing in plate tectonics, who wrote a standard textbook and then an encyclopedia of structural geology and plate tectonics, which went through almost 40 editions between 1973-2006.
ESSE is famous for the quality of its instruction and instructors, with faculty holding awards and recognition from Buffalo State (Associate Professor Gary Solar) and SUNY (Distinguished Teaching Professor Jill Singer).
All geoscience majors participate in extensive field work and have opportunities for undergraduate research and local internships. Professor Singer established and led the Undergraduate Research Office at Buffalo State and is a fellow of the American Geophysical and the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).
The department offers minors in geology, astronomy, and environmental studies (led by Associate Professor Elisa Bergslien) and our new bachelor of arts program in geology is eligible for New York State professional geologist certification.
Our science education graduate programs, which lead to initial and advanced NYSED STEM teacher certification, are led by Associate Professor Joe Zawicki and are rigorously accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
ESSE students and graduates have a long history of excellence in their scholarship, research, service, and early career awards. Most undergraduates perform some sort of research and present it at on-campus, regional, and national conferences.
Recent Student-Involved Research Projects
Students graduating from ESSE go on to a wide variety of careers in industry and academia. ESSE careers can include any combination of regular nine-to-five daily scientific office work, laboratory work, or travel with extended fieldwork.
Many graduates have become local public school STEM teachers, community college and college teachers, informal educators for non-profit organizations, and other teacher-leaders (one graduate returned with her Ph.D. for a 30+-year career as professor and chair of our own department).
ESSE graduates go on to become professional geologists, astronomers, environmental scientists, consultants, engineers, lawyers, government policy writers and advocates, and business people. Others have become writers and artists, all starting with their degree from the Earth Sciences and Science Education Department at Buffalo State.
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