Academics

Environmental Science

Download ChecksheetGeospatial Lab Homepage

Training in bird banding techniques

Environmental Science is a multidisciplinary field, the program is designed for students to obtain an understanding of the basic principles and applications of the following disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics, geology, regulatory and environmental policy, wetland ecology, and scientific research and writing. Students graduating from the Environmental Science program will be trained to collaborate with industries and environmental agencies to advance economic progress while maintaining sustainable ecosystems through compliance with environmental regulations. In addition to introducing basic scientific and environmental topics, we strongly emphasize developing the skills needed to understand, assess, predict and mitigate important environmental issues and problems. Goals of the environmental science major include preparing students for (1) advanced graduate studies, (2) immediate employment at the bachelor's level, and (3) responsible citizen participation in a world where environmental concerns and decisions are becoming increasingly important. The program is structured to allow students to specialize in the biological, chemical, or geological aspects of environmental science of their choice by having 20 credits of electives. We also offer an Applied Environmental Science Track of recommended electives that specifically prepare students to work in the Environmental Science field upon graduation. Many students opt to dual major with Biology if they plan to manage natural resources or Chemistry if they are interested in toxicology. We also highly recommend a Minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) since it is one of the fastest growing job markets in the country.

Practical Applications

Practical techniques and applications, including field experiences, research and internships are encouraged. We provide assistance and frequently direct support (financial and otherwise), for qualified students who wish to acquire practical experience by participating in ongoing research and educational projects, obtaining internships with environmental agencies, firms and organizations, attending professional conferences and symposiums, and  taking advantage of related opportunities. Such activities help make the public and potential employers aware of what we can offer, improve the employment outlook for our students, and provide financial aid for our majors. Students are also required to conduct a professional-level Senior Research Project. These projects can also provide opportunities for students to publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals, opening the doors to enter graduate programs across the country. Two Senior Research Project examples focused on assessing machine-learning algorithms and image- and lidar-derived variables for GEOBIA classification of mining and mine reclamation (published in the International Journal of Remote Sensing with a student co-author and funded by AmericaView and the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science) and characterizing trophic webs of Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) using stable isotopes of C and N (funded by a Ledford Scholarship from the Appalachian College Association).

Employment Opportunities

The overwhelming majority of Environmental Science jobs are with consulting firms or governmental agencies that process, handle and remediate (clean up) hazardous materials, or with industries that are attempting to stay in compliance with environmental regulations. Here in West Virginia, the energy industries (coal, oil and gas) represent a significant source of jobs for Environmental Scientists. Additional employment opportunities are available with agencies and consultant firms dealing with land use regulation, especially wetland delineation and resource conservation. A growing need for qualified individuals exists in this field. Nearly all reviews of future employment prospects include environmental work among the major long-term needs. Some of the areas where individuals trained in environmental sciences are currently needed are consulting companies, engineering firms, energy companies, planning boards, government agencies and non-profit organizations (The Nature Conservancy, land trusts, etc.) are among those seeking qualified graduates. Pollution compliance experts are also in great demand in nearly all industries. Specific marketable skills that our Environmental Science graduates receive are risk analysis, environmental site assessments, GIS spatial analysis and mapping, wetland delineation and applications of regulatory compliance. 

Faculty and Facilities 

The Alderson Broaddus Environmental Science program aims to be demanding, rewarding and truly interdisciplinary. Currently involved with the program are faculty with special interests in such diverse fields as wildlife ecology, aquatic ecosystems, hydrogeology, environmental risks, GIS, global environmental problems, remediation, and wetland delineation.

Students will be able to work closely with faculty, participate in field trips and special projects, and be given individual consideration not feasible in large universities. At least twice a semester, the College of Science, Technology and Mathematics faculty offer a popular (and free) luncheon for all science majors.

 

Collecting screening samples at a
Brownfield site in Richwood, WV.