Environmental Science B.A. Degree

The Earth Science Department is now offering an Environmental Science B.A. degree for students with an interest in protecting and preserving the natural environment. The degree is centered upon courses in the physical earth sciences, such as Air Quality, Environmental Hydrology and Environmental Geology, and this degree will help students prepare for a career in the analysis and evaluation of environmental issues in various emphasis areas. Students will also be able to select an emphasis of study in four curricular areas including Air Quality, Hydrology – Water Quality, Geoscience-Land Quality, and a combination of all three. Current faculty who will be directly contributing to the degree program, and supervising student research projects include Alan Czarnetzki, Mohammad Iqbal, Chad Heinzel and Alexa Sedlacek.

The various environmental facilities in the department will help students investigate environmental concerns and undertake research projects concerning the state of the world around them. The well stocked Environmental Hydrology laboratory includes instruments such as an ion chromatography system, spectrofluorophotometer, spectrophotometer, a portable purge pump system, and a flow simulation system. In addition the department maintains an active well-site on campus with continuous monitoring of a branch of Dry Run Creek with a water quality logger, minisonde and radar level sensor.

The geological aspects of the environment can be examined using an x-ray fluorescence analyzer to study heavy metal contaminants. Rock and soil samples can also be analyzed by students using the petrographic microscopes in the optical mineralogy laboratory. Students have access to a wide array of field equipment for work at sites around the state and a rock preparation laboratory to ready samples for further study.

Students with an interest in air quality have access to a SODAR (sonic detection and ranging unit), and LIDAR (light detection and ranging unit) to measure characteristics of the atmosphere. There is also a roof-top weather station with real time data of the atmosphere, as well as a microwave temperature profiler to study higher layers of the atmosphere. Students will also become familiar with the various air dispersion modeling software packages currently in use by environmental firms and the public section.

The degree was formally approved by the Board of Regents in Aug. 2013, and in that short amount of time ten students have signed up for the degree program. In addition, prospective majors to the department show an overwhelming interest in pursuing the environmental science degree.