Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Earning a Bachelors in environmental science and geology from Antioch College in Yellow Springs Ohio, Dr. Martin Helmke is an Associate Professor of Hydrogeology and Soils in the Department of Geology and Astronomy. Helmke continued his education at Iowa State University of Science and Technology and earned his Ph.D. in Geology and Water Resources.

He was a teacher’s assistant for seven years and has been a teacher for 11 years, six of which at West Chester University.

Helmke teaches “Introduction to Geology, Hydrogeology, and Soils.” He also teaches Geology of National Parks which is taught during the summer semester. During the class, he and his students travel to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for two weeks.

Helmke has many publications including a chapter in a book on soil, water quality and human health. The other publication is a scientific article on contaminant chemicals in drinking water and health risks.

He has earned many awards too. Helmke won the “American Geophysical Union Horton Award” for his research. He also won “Firefighter of the Year” in 2010 at the Fame Fire Company.

Another accomplishment Helmke is proud of is when Helmke and his students helped the university write part of a five-million-dollar grant that was awarded to the university to convert the energy system at West Chester to geothermal energy.

His best academic achievement is service learning. The objective of this is to “do geology” and help the community. The service learning he does with his students involves his students doing research in the community and writing reports about their findings in order to better this region.

Some of the most successful service learning projects was flood risks in Chester County, drinking water availability in housing developments, rain gardens and geothermal energy.

Helmke’s academic goal is “striving to become a better teacher.”

“I am always seeking opportunities to conduct geologic research with my students that will improve the community,” Helmke said.

At 16, Helmke hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine by himself. This is what he describes as his best life achievement. Helmke explained how he has achieved his life goals and is now enjoying life and making the most of it while always trying to better himself.

“Seeing students realize how important geology is to everyone and helping them know they are able to make a real difference,” Helmke said when explaining what he loved most about teaching.

“I love the focus on the learning; there are extraordinary educators here who are rewarded by the university. Service learning is also rewarded. The alumni support is great too,” Helmke said about WCU. He explained how many geology students stay in the area and contribute back to WCU and the community.

Helmke’s advice to students is, “take full advantage of your time here at West Chester, it will be gone before you know it.”

“Once you are out of college you may not have the time to be active and pursue your interests. You will have family obligations and a full time job.” He also added, “please, make smart choices.”

Dr. Helmke can be located in Merion Science Center, room 211.

Rebekah Balmer is a fourth-year student majoring in women’s and gender studies and sociology . She can be reached at

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