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Environmental Science

The Environmental Science program at Union offers a wide range of integrated courses that address the scientific aspect of a variety of key environmental problems at the intersection of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and the Geosciences. With related courses in Engineering and in Environmental Policy, students appreciate the complexity of environmental solutions in the modern world. There are several focal areas of the program and the faculty.

1) The Ecology of Natural Systems including wetlands, forests, and grasslands. This group of faculty is focussed on understanding the biological complexity of natural ecosystems, and the forces that make these systems function. This group has active research on California grasslands, forests of the Northeast, and aquatic systems in New York and New England.

2) The impact of Climate Change and Environmental Change as recorded in watersheds and lakes of sensitive ecological areas. This group studies sediment records in rivers, streams, and lakes, with a focus on understanding how changes in temperature, precipitation, surface processes, and human impacts affect sediment transport and organic productivitiy. Active research by faculty and students in this group is in watersheds in Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, the temperate Northeast, and the Tropical Andes.

3) The Fate and transport of environmental contaminants in natural systems. These studies include understanding how contaminants are picked up by sediments, transport mechanisms, and the fate of contaminants in river, streams, lakes, and in groudwater. This is a key area in environmental science that has wonderful employment opportunities.

4) The Evaluation and response to natural hazards. Studies and research include evaluation of the severity and frequency of flooding, volcanic hazards, the effects of seismic shaking, and the effects of catastrophic storms. A new mini-term is focussed on rebuilding New Orleans that was badly damaged in Katrina. For some time, a large group of faculty and students have been working on flooding on the Mohawk River, which passes through Schenectady.

The curriculum in Environmental Science at Union reflects these strategic areas and is focussed on issues related to Global Climate change, Water, and Energy and the Science track has five main tracks, which are listed below.

One of the other distinctive aspects of the program is a wonderful mix of FIELD PROGRAMS, many of which are focussed on Environmental Science. These programs include some amazing things like examining the science and engineering behind the Alaskan Pipeline, analyzing hurricane frequency through sediment layers in lakes of the Bahamas, investigating the economics behind power generation and energy consumption in New Zealand, understanding geothermal power in Iceland, evaluating Atlantic fisheries, or studying biodiversity on the Great Barrier Reef or the rainforests of Panama.

The culmination of the BSc in Environmental Science is the Senior thesis where student work on original research with a faculty member or a research team. Here is a list of recent theses.

Environmental SCIENCE TRACK (All tracks together, PDF form)

Environmental Policy overview is here.

Environmental Engineering and Technology overview is here.

PLEASE GO HERE for guidelines related to THESIS SUBMISSION





This document can be located from: http://minerva.union.edu/env/ES_home.html

© Geology Department, Union College, Schenectady N.Y. 12308-3107.All rights reserved. No part of the document can be copied and/or redistributed, electronically or otherwise, without written permission from J.I.Garver, Geology Department, Union College, Schenectady NY, 12308-2311, USA.