Fish Culture and Experiment Station
3059 National Fish Hatchery Road #F
Hagerman, Idaho 83332
Research & Extension Center
CSI Evergreen Building
315 Falls Avenue East
Twin Falls, Idaho 83301
821 W. Idaho Street
Boise, ID 83702
M-F: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Parking is available in the Eastman Garage located above the VandalStore with entrances on both Idaho and Main Street.
From Private Industry to the Public Sector, Geologist Says Public Service is Rewarding
Virginia Gillerman grew up in the halls of academia. Her father was a geology professor at the University of Kansas and, as a young girl, Gillerman admired and was fascinated by the displays of mineral specimens at her father’s office.
“I didn’t consciously think about it,” Gillerman explains about her decision to enter academia. “But it does rub off on you. I wasn’t thinking about teaching exactly, I wanted to get out and do something.”
Gillerman earned her undergraduate degree at Carleton College, a small, private liberal arts college in historic Northfield, Minnesota. From there she made her way to Berkeley where she went to graduate school and earned her doctorate.
“In grad school, I specialized in economic geology, mostly metalliferous mineral deposits and mining,” she says. “So when I got out of school, I worked in the mineral exploration industry.”
After years of putting her skills to use in private industry, the geologist decided it was time for something new. Immediately after graduate school, Gillerman worked in Idaho mapping volcanic rocks in St. Anthony and Rexburg, so she was somewhat familiar with Idaho.. That’s why, when the job opened at the University of Idaho as a Research Geologist with the Idaho Geological Survey (IGS), it was a perfect fit.
“The main office is in Moscow,” explains Gillerman. The Survey started in 1919, and in 1989 the Idaho legislature expanded the IGS and opened branch offices, one in Pocatello at Idaho State University, the other in the capital city at Boise State University. “It (Idaho Geological Survey) was moved a few years ago to the Idaho Water Center at the University of Idaho-Boise.”
IGS is one of 50 geological surveys around the nation. They are funded by their state government, which makes them a state agency; about half of them are administered by a university and the rest through a state’s department of natural resources.
Gillerman says she prefers to be out in the field. “In general, our roles are research and public service, which includes outreach. Field time is usually oriented toward a specific project paid for by specific funding.” And that means with budget cuts, field time has been extremely limited.
“The field work is a lot of fun,” says Gillerman. “That is where you see new things and make new discoveries,” says Gillerman.
Once she left industry work, Gillerman focused on sharing her wealth of hard rock knowledge with students and the general public. “I did grow up seeing a nice lifestyle in academia, and I liked the more intellectual aspects of it,” says Gillerman about moving from industry to a university setting. She also enjoys the diversity of geology and geologic questions that she deals with in the job, which currently focuses more on research.