Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Geology Senior Looks at Environment Differently Due to Science

Lori Bebinger | 2013 B.S. Geology
Field Scientist | American Environmental 

Lori Bebinger,  Undergraduate, Earth Science, School of Science

Lori Bebinger gets frustrated when people summarize her true career passion by asking “You study rocks?”

“Geology is about much more than that,” said Bebinger, a senior geology major in the Department of Earth Sciences at IUPUI. “I have learned to look at the world in a different way. Just driving to school, I might notice an outcrop on the side of the road or the change in rocks from one side to another. This is science that is all around us.”

Bebinger, of Crown Point, Ind., transferred to IUPUI after attending Indiana University-Northwest. From her first physical geology course at IUPUI, “I loved it and it won me over. I just ate up everything and my interest continued to grow.”

Lori Bebinger,  Undergraduate, Earth Science, School of ScienceLori takes notes during a recent field trip to Marrott Park in Indianapolis.

“One of the great things about earth sciences is you really get to use all of the sciences and actually apply them in the field,” she said. “Plus, I wanted a career where I wasn’t at a desk all day and could be outside doing something I love.”

For the past year, Bebinger has been conducting field research with her mentor Pierre-Andre Jacinthe, associate professor of earth sciences. They have been studying soil composition in riparian zones, agricultural areas where microorganisms break down fertilizer and serve as a buffer to protect water sources.

She has presented her research at the IUPUI Research Day and at the national conference for the Soil Science Society of America in October. She also works as an intern analyzing soil samples for the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at IUPUI.

Bebinger, who will graduate in May 2013, said she is driven by the continued opportunities to get her hands dirty and uncover new knowledge about her environment.

“The job market is really good for geology or earth sciences graduates,” said Bebinger, who is considering taking a job before returning to graduate school. “You can work for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or the USDA (Department of Agriculture). You can become a consultant on soil or water, and there is a need for researchers who can work with water, soil, oil and land mapping.”

Despite the misperception some may have of geology, Bebinger said she sees the field as both conceptual and dynamic. She shares her views with other interested students as the current vice president of the IUPUI Geology Club.

“The clubs does a lot of fun stuff outside and in our community. We talk about current topics in earth sciences and try to change the public perception about geology,” she said.

“A lot of people get into geology and realize there is a lot more to learn about the field than what they expected. It’s one of the things I like about studying this area.”