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Career Snapshots Our Graduates in the real world

See what the graduates from the Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment have been up to! Wondering what possibilities await once you get a degree in Geology? Take a look below!

Thomas Feehan

Illinois State University, Geology, B.S., 1994

Illinois State University, Geohydrology, B.S., 1996

University of Phoenix, MBA, 2004

Mr. Feehan has 29 years of experience in mining with 25 of those years specializing in drill planning, mineral exploration, lithium brines, geotechnical/slope stability investigations, mining hydrogeology, mine dewatering and water supply projects. He has worked for some of the largest gold mining operations in North and South America and Central Asia. He also has experience with mining and exploration programs for coal, copper, lead, silver, uranium and zinc. Outside of mining he has managed projects for baseline environmental studies, mine closure/reclamation and raw water delivery for agricultural and municipal projects.

In his career, Mr. Feehan has managed various multimillion-dollar drilling and data collection programs on multiple continents. In addition to work throughout the United States his international experience includes work on projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Ghana, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Turkey.

Fluent in Spanish, Thomas has worked and traveled extensively in throughout Latin America. He currently works in a Business Development and Financial Role with Boart Longyear Drilling Services. He is currently focused on new client development and business relations in the United States.

“The foundation of what I have been able to do in my career was developed initially at ISU. I owe a significant debt of gratitude to those professors who let me grow in a practical environment. The experience of ISU and the network of contacts I have today are a reflection of my time at ISU and something for which I am very grateful for in my life.”

Jessica Schumacher

Illinois State University, Geology, B.S., 2017

  • Occupation: Environmental Engineer, Solid Waste Program Coordinator
  • Employer: Cook County’s Department of Environment and Sustainability
  • Location: Chicago, IL

In Fall of 2016, Jessica Schumacher started work for Cook County’s Department of Environment and Sustainability as an Environmental Engineer. Her job duties included field work such as inspecting waste and recycling facilities for environmental compliance. In Winter of 2018, Jessica was promoted to Solid Waste Program Coordinator. As the program coordinator, she manages a team of environmental inspectors and is the liaison with EPA officials, local municipal officials, and local solid waste agencies in regards to solid waste matters. Jessica coordinates the implementation of the Cook County Solid Waste Management Plan for suburban municipalities located within Cook County. Additionally, Jessica implements waste and recycling programs for Cook County residents as well as manages grants from IEPA and USEPA.

"Thanks to the Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment I got a job doing something I am passionate about where I can also make a difference. I now work with government and industry leaders concerning environmental issues and sustainable solutions."

Kelly Sanks

Illinois State University, Geology, B.S., 2016

University of Arkansas, Geology, M.S., 2018

  • Occupation: Ph.D. Graduate Student and Hydrology Pathways Intern
  • Employer: University of Arkansas and LMG United States Geological Survey
  • Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

As a graduate student, my day-to-day activities vary, and I am involved in a variety of projects. The projects all focus on coastal sustainability, mainly in deltaic environments and involve a comprehensive understanding of sediment transport laws. At the USGS, I will also be working on various projects from mapping in Arkansas to conducting fieldwork on a coastal marsh in Baton Rouge, LA.

The professors at Illinois State really shaped my interests and helped mold me into the geologist I am today. While I was not always sure what I wanted to do when I graduated, from the moment I walked into the geology department at ISU, I knew I would not find a place that felt more like home. All of the professors genuinely care about your success and go above and beyond to help you reach your goals. After I graduated, I was a summer intern at the USGS in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, which is where I discovered my true passion; coastal sustainability. From there, I started graduate school at the University of Arkansas, receiving my Masters Degree in December 2018. I am currently splitting my time half way as a pathways intern at the USGS and PhD student at the University of Arkansas, where I continue to study different facets of coastal sustainability.

Laura Sugano

Illinois State University, Geology, B.S., 2015

Kent State University, Geology, M.S.

  • Occupation: Staff Geologist
  • Employer: Roux Associates, Inc.
  • Location: Laramie, Wyoming

Ms. Sugano is a Staff Geologist with Roux Associates, Inc. where she has worked on a variety of projects from storm water management and compliance to groundwater and soil remediation. Laura has a M.S. in Geology from Kent State University and a B.S. in Geology from Illinois State University. Her master’s thesis focused on comparing the hydrologic and biogeochemical effectiveness of green infrastructure. Her undergraduate research was focused on hydrology and water quality of two drinking water tributaries in McLean County, as well as the surficial geology of McLean County, Illinois. She also researched Pleistocene and mid-continent climate, hydrologic, and paleoseismic records using speleothems from caves in Arkansas, Missouri, and Indiana through a National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) internship with the US Geological Survey.

"The educational foundation, experience, and network I gained through the ISU Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment have given me the tools I needed to achieve my professional goals as a geologist."

Simone Runyon

Illinois State University Geology, B.S., 2011

University of Arizona, Geology M.S., 2013

University of Arizona, Geology Ph.D., 2017

  • Occupation: Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics
  • Employer: University of Wyoming
  • Location: Laramie, Wyoming

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Wyoming. I specialize in Economic Geology, studying hydrothermal ore deposits, and am currently teaching an Ore Deposits course. My research involves field-based studies supported by multiple laboratory techniques to better understand the formation of hydrothermal systems through time.

After completing my BS in Geology at Illinois State, I went on to complete a Masters and PhD at the University of Arizona. I was very fortunate to be able to work with multiple different mining companies for access to sites and samples during my graduate career. After my PhD, I was a post-doctoral researcher at the Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory before starting as an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming this fall.

My time at Illinois State was very rewarding. I was able to undertake multiple different research projects as an undergraduate, working with almost everyone in the department, receiving funding to complete and present my work at national conferences, and getting to use state-of-the-art equipment. Further, ISU's field camp is a huge strength of the department and a real credit to the university. At a time when many schools are losing their field camps, ISU's field camp gives students a competitive edge as they enter the workforce or graduate school.

Evan Bowen

Illinois State University, Hydrogeology, M.S., 2007

  • Occupation: Senior Geologist
  • Employer: Covia
  • Location: Mackinaw, Illinois

I’ve been working as a mining geologist in the industrial minerals sector for over 10 years now. The training and mentoring I received from the Geology Department at Illinois State really set me up for success. I am proud to earn a great living and provide for my family doing something I find interesting and rewarding.

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