WIU is the only university in Illinois with a paleontology option for the B.S. degree, and one of only a handful of programs in the nation that offers such a program. The program works by combining paleontology coursework within the Geology minor with biology-focused coursework. Independent research is strongly encouraged.
WIU paleontology students have presented their work at national conferences (the Geological Society of America annual meeting) and locally (WIU's Thomas E. Helms Undergraduate Research Day). They have also seen their research published in prestigious journals. Examples of projects include:
• First CT-scan reconstruction of Graeophonus, a late Carboniferous whip spider (Arachnida: Amblypygi) from Coseley, Staffordshire, UK.
• Original spotted patterns on Middle Devonian phacopid trilobites from western and central New York
For a list of possible student projects, see the Opportunities for Students page
The field of paleontology is not one with many job opportunities. But, there are always job opportunities for dedicated, motivated paleontologists. A career in paleontology usually requires an advanced degree—either a Ph.D or an M.S. Research paleontologists often get jobs as museum curators, collection managers or as professors. There are other opportunities to use paleontological expertise in the fields of education, conservation, national parks service, and the energy industry.