College of Arts and Sciences

New WIU Radar Weather in a Tank Synoptic Lab GIS Class Cartography Field Camp 2016 River Monitoring GSA Conference TV Weather World Regional Sand Table Closeup - Weather in a Tank Inside the DOW Student Opportunities Gypsum Mine Undergraduate Research Day Field Camp 2018
WIU meteorology students learn computer programs, languages, and visualization systems commonly used in the industry
Every student engages in research

Welcome to the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Geographic Information Sciences (EAGIS). We offer a Bachelor of Science in Geology, Bachelor of Science in Meteorology, Bachelor of Science in Geography and Geographic Information Science, a Master of Arts in Geography and two Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Programs: Community Development and Planning and GIS Analysis.

We also offer a five-year integrated program where you earn both a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in an accelerated timeframe.

NEW!!  Beginning in Fall 2018,  we are offering an online degree in Geography and Geographic Information Science (GIS). This program is intended for both traditional and non-traditional students.

We encourage you to visit our department. To coordinate a visit or to learn more about our programs please contact:

facebook link

Samuel Thompson, Ph.D. 
Chair, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Geographic Information Sciences
(309) 298-1648

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Why Study Geology, Meteorology, or Geography/Geographic Information Sciences at WIU?

One-on-One Attention: All Geology, Meteorology, and Geography/Geographic Information Science classes are taught by Ph.D.s in their respective fields. Our class sizes are small, which means that students receive one-on-one attention. Faculty members are actively engaged in students’ progress throughout their college experience. Student-led organizations including the Severe Weather Club and the Student Society of Geography add to the sense of community within the department.

Career Preparedness: We help students prepare for careers in geology, meteorology, geography and the high-growth field of GIScience with training in the latest software and modeling programs. Along with teaching technical proficiency, we work closely with students to develop the analytical skills they need to interpret and use data effectively. We provide paid internships for top students in the GIS Center, help place students in outside internships and create opportunities for every student to apply their skills with the undergraduate and graduate research that is built into our curriculum.

Distinguished Faculty: While the department’s primary focus is teaching, faculty members are also actively engaged in research and publishing. Since 2010 members of the geology, geography and meteorology faculty have been awarded $522,000 in highly competitive National Science Foundation grants. Grant funding gives WIU students the chance to conduct hands-on scientific research under the guidance of department members.

Strengths of our department include:

• Small class sizes and low student/faculty ratio

• State-of-the-art labs, software, modeling programs and technology

• Strong emphasis on undergraduate research

• Application-oriented learning

• Focus on students’ career preparedness

• Diverse faculty with a wide range of backgrounds

Department of Geology at Western Illinois University.

Preparing Students For Geoscience Careers

The Department of Geology is part of the College of Arts and Sciences and offers courses leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology.

Our graduates enter many industrial, private, and governmental jobs in many diverse fields such as;

  • environmental geology
  • engineering geology
  • petroleum geology
  • mining geology

Many of our students go on to continue their education in graduate programs at other universities. Majors must also take related courses in mathematics, chemistry and physics, or biology.

Programs of Study

Majors - Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree, options in:
  • Geology
  • Paleontology
Minor  in Geology


Geology Program - CAS

Bachelor of Science in Meteorology

"Western's meteorology program is small, which allows for more one-on-one interaction with professors. It provides a starting foundation for future careers in meteorology." -- Gregory Matson ‘11


Meteorology majors are exposed to concepts, methodologies and practical applications related to both weather analysis and forecasting. The core of the degree includes courses in synoptic meteorology (study of atmospheric circulation, cyclonic rotation, weather forecasting, and weather map analysis) and dynamic meteorology (atmospheric thermodynamics and the equations that describe atmospheric motion). Students learn how to forecast weather and use the specialized equipment and reporting techniques associated with weather observations, weather radar, and remotely sensed information.

Western Illinois University’s meteorology curriculum meets the National Weather Service requirements for employment as a meteorologist (GS-1340). We also have full membership in the University Corporation for Atmospheric Sciences (UCAR).

With a low student-to-faculty ratio, professors are actively engaged in students’ progress and career readiness. Students can gain proficiency in the computer programs, languages, and visualization systems commonly used in the industry including MATLAB, Vis5D and Linux. WIU meteorology students can also develop valuable professional skills by participating in research, internships, and on-air forecasting on public radio and WWIR, the campus TV station. Having both meteorology and geography/geographic information science expertise in one department offers students an opportunity to pair their major with additional, highly marketable skill sets.

Our student-led Severe Weather Club is an official NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador. The club connects students together and to the community with severe weather preparedness outreach to local schools and community organizations.


Contact Us

Samuel Thompson, Ph.D. 
Chair, Department of Geography, GIS and Meteorology

Marcus Büker, Ph.D. 
Faculty Mentor

Redina Finch, Ph.D. 
Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Sandrik-Rubio 
Undergraduate Advisor

Possible Careers in Meteorology

Our graduates have been highly successful in finding employment in four areas:

1) Weather Forecasting - Forecasting has always been at the heart of meteorology and has seen exciting advances which aid in the ability to predict the weather using sophisticated computer models.

2) Atmospheric Research - Research meteorologists often work closely with scientists in basic physical disciplines such as chemistry, physics, and mathematics, as well as with oceanographers, hydrologists, and researchers in other branches of environmental science.

3) Broadcast Meteorology - Broadcast meteorologists deliver their own local and national forecasts on television and radio.

4) Private Sector Meteorology - Private forecasting organizations provide highly specialized forecasts for clients with very specific needs such as short-term, small-scale snow forecasts for city public works managers, weather reports for commodities traders who are concerned about the impact of weather on crop production and prices, and game-day weather reports for athletic events such as professional football games and golf tournaments. Insurance companies, the military, instrumentation companies, software companies and others also hire meteorologists. 

Additional careers include:

  • Earth Scientist
  • Emergency Manager
  • Environmental Conservationist
  • Hydrologist
  • Climatologist
  • Forensic Meteorologist
  • Weather Forecaster
  • Wind Analyst
  • Meteorological Data Analyst
  • Aviation Meteorologist
  • Consulting Meteorologist
  • Utility/construction Company Meteorologist
  • Broadcast Meteorologist
  • Science Reporter
  • Weather Risk Analyst
  • Damage Assessor
  • …and many more!!

Where the employers are:

  • National Weather Service
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • Engineering Firms
  • Wind Energy or Sustainable Energy Companies
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • Insurance Companies
  • Environmental Consulting Firms
  • Local and State Government
  • Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
  • Meteorological Consulting Companies
  • Private Forecasting Firms
  • National and International Airlines
  • Agriculture Forecasting

Why choose Meteorology at WIU?

  • Program meets the National Weather Service curricular requirements for employment as a meteorologist (GS-1340)
  • Hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment
  • Low student-professor ratios
  • Courses taught by Ph.D.s
  • Active Severe Weather Club (a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador)
  • Training in MATLAB, Vis5D and Linux
  • Opportunities to deliver on-air forecasts on campus TV and local radio
  • Internship opportunities
  • Focus on undergraduate research
  • Senior capstone thesis project
  • Access to the only on-campus weather radar station in the state
  • Opportunities to develop geospatial skills, including GIS training
  • Every senior completes a professional portfolio with faculty guidance
  • American Meteorology Society meeting attendance
  • Strong dedication to student success

Meteorology Program - CAS

Bachelor of Science in Geography and Geographic Information Science

Online Bachelor’s Degree, Fall 2018 -- Apply Now!

Beginning Fall 2018, we are offering an online degree in Geography and Geographic Information Science (GIS). This program is intended for both traditional and non-traditional students.

With the Bachelor of Science degree in Geography/GIS, a graduate will be qualified for a broad selection of careers, including cartographer, GIS specialist and analyst, planning, human geography, water resource specialist and environmental impact analyst, to mention a few.

Apply now and start during the Fall semester in 2018.


“My main interest in the program quickly became Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Many of the professors in the department have expertise in GIS and remote sensing. After completing the GIS minor and graduating from the geography department, I have developed essential skills to prepare me for a career in GIS.

Overall, the geography program is very strong at WIU. The faculty members are very friendly, helpful, and have a genuine interest in ensuring that students gain a quality education. If you are considering a career in geography, WIU is a great place to start!"

- Caleb Mackey ‘12 is a GIS technician with Cedar County, Iowa.

Geography and Geographic Information Science

Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. (source:

As a field of study that is extremely interdisciplinary, geography majors pursue a wide range of careers and develop skill sets that apply to everything from land use planning to market research to disaster response.

Geographic Information Science (GIScience) is a fast growing discipline that utilizes geospatial technology to process, analyze and represent geographic data in maps and images. Our students learn how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technology and, importantly, they develop analytical abilities to interpret and use data effectively. Demand for professionals trained in GIScience and geospatial technology has created significant career opportunities in a growing number of industries. Organizations turn to GIScience to predict flood paths, analyze crop planting sites, identify locations for retail expansion and much more.

Recognizing our department’s GIScience expertise as well as the highly marketable skills that students gain through GIScience, we have updated our curriculum to place greater emphasis on GIScience and geospatial technology beginning with the fall 2017 semester. With the new curriculum every graduating major will have enough proficiency to meet the curricular requirements for employment as a GIS analyst.

Beginning fall 2017, geography and GIScience majors may pursue an option in:

  • Geospatial Technologies
  • General Geography

Advanced GIS Analysis (GEOG 409G)


Course instructor (and developer): Dr. Yongxin Deng


The course will:

  • Train students, both undergraduates and graduates, to become qualified GIS analysts and modelers.
  • Expose to students a complete range of GIS problem-solving and analytical issues.
  • Guide students to develop GIS skills necessary for diverse applications.
  • Provide substantial learning opportunities including (in-class and recorded) lectures, readings, labs, course project, exercises, (online) class discussions, student presentations, and GIS project reviews.

The course is:

  • A core course of the WIU GIS curriculum, which leads to multiple graduate and undergraduate degrees (and certificate).
    • Both an online and an irregular (on WIU QC campus) course with flexible schedules and options.
    • Taught by an experienced GIS professor/researcher.  


WIU Geography and GIScience classes are taught by Ph.D.s and our low professor-to-student ratio means that we are personally invested in each student’s progress. Our focus on applied learning helps students develop marketable skills that translate directly to the workforce.

The GIS Center

The department is home to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center which is a partnership between WIU, the City of Macomb and McDonough County. Paid internships at the center create opportunities for top students to work on real-world GIS projects related to agriculture, emergency management, land use and other industries while receiving training and oversight from the center’s GIS professionals. GIS Center interns develop a strong professional portfolio and the center has a 100 percent job placement rate amongst graduates who have pursued GIScience careers.

Possible Career Paths for Geography and GIScience Majors

  • Digital Mapping
  • Disaster Response
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Urban Planning
  • International Business
  • Transportation, Land Use and Tourism Planning
  • Economic Development
  • Market Research
  • Public Health Planning
  • Historic Preservation
  • Environmental Consulting
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Public Education
  • …and many more!!

Where the employers are:

  • Architecture Firms
  • Public Utilities and Sustainable Energy Companies
  • Environmental Consulting Firms
  • Transportation Departments
  • Land Development Firms
  • Planning Agencies
  • Planning Consulting Firms
  • Engineering Firms
  • Federal Agencies including the military, the Environmental Protection Agency,
  • the US Geological Survey and the US Department of Defense
  • Local, County and State Governments
  • Major Retailers
  • Marketing Companies
  • Airlines
  • Insurance Companies

Why Choose Geography and GIScience at WIU?

  • State-of-the-art geospatial technology labs
  • Courses taught by Ph.D.s
  • Low student-professor ratios
  • Internship opportunities in the GIS Center and outside organizations
  • Focus on technical and analytical skills that are highly marketable!
  • Applied geography emphasis
  • Senior capstone thesis project
  • Strong dedication to success of students

Geography Program - CAS



Department of Geography, Geographic Information Science and Meteorology

Samuel Thompson, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Geography, GIS and Meteorology

Marcus Büker, Ph.D.
Faculty Mentor

Redina Finch, Ph.D.
Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Sandrik-Rubio
Undergraduate Advisor

College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)

Dean: Dr. Susan Martinelli-Fernandez
Associate Dean: Dr. James A. Schmidt
Associate Dean: Dr. Kyle R. Mayborn
Assistant Dean (WIU-QC): Dr. James A. Rabchuk
Office: Morgan Hall 114
Telephone: (309) 298-1828
Fax: (309) 298-2585

CAS Website

Website: Quad Cities Advising

News and Upcoming Events


 Gabler Lecture poster

The 2019 Gabler Lecture

Did you miss it? See the presentation below!

The Gabler Lecture is named for Robert Gabler, who served as chair of Western's geography department and director of international programs. He is a past president of both the Illinois Geographical Society and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) and the recipient of the NCGE's George J. Miller Distinguished Service Award. Gabler was named one of the "Leaders in American Geography" by Barton and Karan's 1992 book of the same name. Gabler also is the author of numerous books including Introduction to Physical Geography, Essentials of Physical Geography, and Human Geography: People Cultures and Landscapes.

WIU GIS Center takes life-saving technology to new heights

(Click photo for KHQA news report)

Chad Sperry GIS KHQA

Richard Sample (WIU Meteorology alum/Geography Graduate student)
gives presentation to the Severe Weather Club (11/29/18)

Sample - 2018 SWC presentation

Did you miss it? See the presentation below!

2018 Gabler Lecturer:

Derek H. Alderman
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
President, American Association of Geographers

Alderman-Gabler 2018

Geography Awareness Week Feature Lecturer:

Ariann Nassel
University of Alabama, Birmingham

Nassel-GAW 2017

KHQA's Nick Stewart (WIU Meteorology alum) gives presentation to the
Severe Weather Club (11/01/17)

Stewart - 2017 SWC presentation

Did you miss it? See the presentation below!

Online Bachelor’s Degree, Fall 2018 -- Apply Now!

Beginning Fall 2018, we are offering an online degree in Geography and Geographic Information Science (GIS). This program is intended for both traditional and non-traditional students.

With the Bachelor of Science degree in Geography/GIS, a graduate will be qualified for a broad selection of careers, including cartographer, GIS specialist and analyst, planning, human geography, water resource specialist and environmental impact analyst, to mention a few.

Apply now and start during the Fall semester in 2018.

WIU Geography Professor, Students Publish Research in International Journal

Deng - Cartographica

Associate Professor Yongxin Deng published "Population Surface Generation: Separating Urban and Rural," which was co-authored by WIU geography graduate student Adam Frantz, of Chesterfield, MO, and 2016 WIU geography and geographic information systems (GIS) graduate Alexis Araoz, who continues to work in the GIS Center . The article, which was published in the Canadian-based Cartographica Spring 2017 issue, addresses parameter choice issues of population density mapping in rural areas. Deng said Frantz and Araoz were students in his upper-level GIS classes, which are offered for both graduate and undergraduate students.


Past Events

 DFL 2017 poster

 Gabler Lecture poster

The 2017 Gabler Lecture & Workshop

The Geography Department hosted the 2017 Gabler Lecture.  

Both the Lecture and Workshop were open to Students/Staff/Faculty/Public.

Presenter: Dr. Joseph Kerski (Geographer and Education Manager, ESRI)

More about Dr. Kerski:


Feature Lecture: The Five Converging Forces Bringing Geography to the World

Joseph Kerski examined geoawareness, geoenablement, geotechnology, crowdsourcing, and storytelling, and explored how you can most effectively position yourself for an exciting career in GIS and geography. Joseph Kerski also revealed the five skills you need most for a successful career in GIS and geography.

6:00 – 7:30 pm on Tuesday, February 28

Heritage Room, University Union, Western Illinois University

Open to Students/Faculty/Staff/Public

Did you miss it? See the presentation below!

Workshop: Why Geospatial Data Quality Matters Now More than Ever.  

“In today’s world of live web mapping services, crowdsourcing, the Internet of Things, and real-time information, geospatial data quality matters now more than ever.  Join Joseph Kerski as we explore a series of real-world examples that will encourage you to think critically about today’s rapidly changing landscape of geospatial data.”

6:00 – 8:00 pm on Wednesday, March 1

2nd Floor Computer Laboratory, Malpass Library, Western Illinois University

Open to Students/Faculty/Staff/Public

For more information, please contact the Geography Department

(email:, or call 309-298-1648).


Nicholas Stewart (Meteorology) is currently a meteorologist at KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He's been there since December of 2017. Prior to KGAN, Nick was the weekend meteorologist at KHQA in Quincy, Illinois for two years. Aside from normal weather reporting during the week, Nick is also the station storm chaser during severe weather situations. He has covered multiple tornadoes live on television giving advanced warning to those in the path. He has won multiple awards including best breaking news coverage and best weather coverage.





Eric Petry (Meteorology) works for Survival Flight Incorporated, an emergency medical aviation transport company that provides on-site medical care to patients. “My job title is an Operational Control Specialist (OCS). As an OCS, my job requirements consist of communicating with medical crews to provide medical air transport across six different states, as well as weather forecasting and reporting for our aircraft. The Western Illinois University meteorology program prepared me for this job excellently. The rigorous courses I took helped me understand surface and upper-atmospheric weather which certainly helps with aviation forecasting. Overall, the knowledge I obtained at Western Illinois University helped me land a job in the aviation meteorology sector and am I thankful for this opportunity.”


Jared Maples (Meteorology) currently works at the National  Weather Service office in Grand Rapids, MI.






Zimmerle Heather Zimmerle (Meteorology):  “After graduating with my meteorology degree, I decided to join the oceanography graduate program at Texas A&M University. After graduating, I was hired as a physical oceanographer with a consulting company in the Houston, TX area. I serve as an observational analyst for my company's EddyWatch and SurveyWatch programs. Every day, I look at various types of ocean data, including our deployed drifting buoys, rig-mounted ADCPs (Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers) as well as satellite imagery to identify circulation features and flows in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore northeastern South America. I also perform real-time ocean monitoring for clients, primarily in the oil and gas industry, and provide a 3-5 day forecast for conditions so they can make important decisions regarding operations.”








Dringman Jerrad Dringman (Meteorology) Mr. Dringman was hired shortly after graduation at Burns & McDonnell Engineering in their Kansas City office. He works as a GIS Specialist in support to the Environmental Services division. He has worked on GIS support for various projects across the country including transmission lines, pipelines, airports, bathymetric mapping, bat habitat surveys, archaeological surveys, wetland surveys and electrofishing projects. GIS support can come in the form of figure creation, analysis, model building, public open houses, mobile project creation, GPS collection, public utility hearings, teaching GIS and more.




Ehrecke Paige Ehrecke (Geography - MA):  "I now have a position as a Seasonal Assistant Naturalist at the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center in Dixon, IA. The staff consists of only 5 people, so I get to do a huge variety of activities! Most are related to biology (my undergraduate degree). My routine includes activities ranging from educational programs, to marketing, to animal care, to site maintenance, to invasive plant removal, and even some erosion management. My degree does really come in handy when it comes down to this point, as I studied moss and erosion for my thesis."











Bruner Michael Bruner (Geography - MA) is a Planner at Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC), which serves the local government planning needs of Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties in central Illinois. As a planner at TCRPC, Michael works mostly on environmental projects. Most notably, Michael was the Project Facilitator for Peoria Lakes Comprehensive Conservation Plan that was completed in Fall 2018. Michael received his master’s degree in Geography and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Community Development at Western Illinois University in Fall 2015.




Wichman Ryan Wichman (Meteorology):  "I'm working at WTOL-TV (CBS affiliate) in Toledo, OH. I've been here for almost 3.5 years. I still love forecasting the weather following our snowiest winter in the past 140 years, but the past few weeks I put on my 'station scientist' hat to cover our Lake Erie algae problem. It looks like I will be doing a lot of stories on that over the next few years (or longer) alongside my typical weather duties. I must admit I enjoy the scientific reporting! It has been pretty fun so far - and it's good to get out of the office!"




Natalie Natalie Jackson (Meteorology):  "This summer, and most summers, I choose seasonal work and jump from place to place bringing my passion with me.  This year happens to be at this awesome college!  My objective has been to share how to predict past and upcoming weather patterns by tracking clouds, temperature and wind (CTW) through observation.  Most of the time I'm instructing on a wilderness trip where technology is not present and or at a camp.  Some locations have included the MN, WI, CA, IN, MT, AK and Saskatchewan Canada. Some programs can go for 45 days and participants really get a chance to see patterns for a specific season."





Devin Biggs(Meteorology) Devin joined the Newswatch 12 News Team in October 2018 as the weekend meteorologist and reporter. Devin graduated with a bachelor’s of science in meteorology and a minor in broadcasting. He got his first experience in live TV when he interned for another NBC affiliate, WAND-TV 17 in Decatur, Illinois, in the summer of 2015. Devin’s experience grew when he was recruited to be the weather anchor for NEWS3, the on-campus TV station from January 2016 until he graduated. Additionally, Devin created forecasts for Tri-States Public Radio throughout his college years.






Kevin Chierek (Meteorology) is an on-air Meteorologist for WAND-TV Decatur, IL.














Stephen Struebig (Meteorology) has been working with meteorological instrumentation for over ten years and is currently the Program Manager for Remote Sensing Services at Campbell Scientific (Logan, UT). Stephen previously worked at The Kentucky Mesonet as a Meteorology Electronics Technician where he did the original design and deployment of weather stations for the Mesonet. He also worked in the WeatherHawk Division of Campbell Scientific focusing on pre-configured weather stations used in education, emergency management, and industrial automation. His current position is within the Renewable Energy Group and focuses on use of ground based wind Lidar in the Wind Energy Industry. “I’ve been extremely lucky to work in an area of meteorology that truly piques my interest. I would not be where I am without the education, skills, and mentorship I received at WIU.”












Tim Gross (Meteorology) currently works at the National  Weather Service office in Davenport, IA.








Geoff Eberle (Meteorology) is a Navy METOC (Meteorology and Oceanography) Officer. He performs a wide variety of duties depending on where he is stationed. Currently he is a Flag Aide to the Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy. His previous duties include conducting near shore oceanography and meteorological support to Naval Special Warfare, conducting hydrographic surveys of both near port and larger ocean areas, tropical weather forecasting at our Joint Typhoon Warning center, or working at the regional weather centers located in Norfolk and San Diego.