Majors Newsletter

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES MAJORS NEWSLETTER

Dear Major:

We hope you are having a productive year! In preparation for the Fall 2021 semester, this newsletter presents important information on advising, courses, placement, research opportunities, awards, and graduation.

FALL ADVISING INFORMATION

The Department of Environmental Sciences is recruiting students for both its BS and BA degrees. We encourage you to recommend our department to fellow students who may not have selected their major at this time.  Anyone needing assistance in determining whether a degree in Environmental Sciences is right for them should see Mr. Bob Davis, Director of Undergraduate Programs.

Fall 2021 Courses

Lower Division:

EVSC 1010 Introduction to Environmental Sciences, Mr. T. Smith, 3 credits

EVSC 1080 Resources and the Environment, Mr. J. Galloway, 3 credits

EVSC 1450 Climate Change, You and CO2, Ms. Lawrence, 3 credits

EVSC 2220 Conservation Ecology: Biodiversity and Beyond, Mr. Lerdau, 3 credits

Core Courses: Each of our four required core courses is offered every semester, and each consists of a 3-credit lecture and a 1-credit laboratory. The offerings and instructors for Fall 2021 are:

EVSC 2800, 2801 Fundamentals of Geology, TBD, 3 credits, 1 credit

EVSC 3200, 3201, Fundamentals of Ecology, Mr. T. Smith, 3 credits, 1 credit

EVSC 3300, 3301, Atmosphere & Weather, Mr. K. Grise, 3 credits, 1 credit

EVSC 3600, 3601, Physical Hydrology, Mr. T. Scanlon, 3 credits, 1 credit

*Note that EVSC 3201 meets the Second Writing Requirement for the College.

Upper Division: Planned upper division offerings for Fall 2021 include:

EVSC 3020 GIS Methods, Mr. Porter, 4 credits

EVSC 3860 Introduction to Geochemistry, Mr. Macko, 4 credits

EVSC 4002 Undergraduate Seminar, 1 credit

EVSC 4010 Introduction to Remote Sensing, Mr. X. Yang, 4 credits

EVSC 4066 Changing Global Carbon Cycle, Mr. S. Doney, 3 credits

EVSC 4080 Quantitative Methods, Ms. P. Wiberg, 3 credits

EVSC 4090 Analytical Chemistry, Ms. R. Pompano, 3 credits

EVSC 4230 Marine Environments & Organisms, Mr. D. Smith, 3 credits

EVSC 4270 Soil Science, Mr. Mills, 4 credits

EVSC 4630 Land-Atmosphere Interaction, Mr. Scanlon, 3 credits

EVSC 4993 Independent Study

EVSC 4995 Supervised Research

EVSC 4999 Thesis Research

Undergraduate students are reminded that courses at the 5000-level are open to them, and most advanced majors should be able to handle the subject material in those courses as well as they can handle 4000-level courses.

EVSC 5020 GIS Methods, Mr. Porter, 4 credits

EVSC 5440 Dynamics of Oceans and Estuaries, 3 credits

EVAT 5300 Introduction to Climatology, Mr. Davis, 3 credits

EVGE 5820 Geomorphology, Mr. Limaye, 4 credits

EVGE 5850 Geochemistry, Mr. Macko, 4 credits

We will be offering two new courses next fall:

EVSC 4559. Climate Modeling and Analysis. (Ms. Schiro & Mr. Grise, TR, 12:30PM-01:45PM)

This course will introduce students to the numerical, statistical, and computational methods used to model variability and change in Earth’s climate system.  The course will provide a conceptual understanding of the physical principles underlying successful Earth system models and teach students mathematical and computational techniques necessary to interpret and analyze model output for a variety of environmental sciences applications.

EVSC 4250 Ecosystem Ecology (Last offered Spring 2013). (Mr. Pace, TR, 09:30AM-10:45AM)

Study of the flows of energy and the cycling of elements in ecosystems and how these concepts connect the various components of the Earth system.  Prerequisite: EVSC 3200 and one semester of chemistry or instructor permission.

Faculty Advisors  

The Department's Undergraduate Academic Advising Committee (UGARC) Mr. Bob Davis, Atmospheric Sciences, red3u@virginia.edu; Mr. Tom Smith, Ecology, tms9a@virginia.edu; Todd Scanlon, Hydrology, tms2v@virginia.edu, and Mr. Ajay Limaye, Geosciences, al3nk@virginia.edu.   When deciding on a major, students may contact any of these committee members.  At that time, a faculty advisor will be assigned (each student’s advisor preferences and academic interests will be considered).  During the course of the student's time in the department, their assigned advisor is the primary source of information. For more complicated issues, they can contact the area representative on the UGARC.

Students with questions about interpreting requirements, transfer credits, SIS-related problems, and study abroad should see Mr. Davis.

FACULTY CHANGES 2021-2022

Max Castorani will be on leave for Fall 2021

Lauren Simkins will be on leave for Fall 2021

Larry Band will be on leave for Fall 2021.

Stephan DeWekker will be on leave for Fall 2021.

Howie Epstein and Karen McGlathery will not be teaching Fall 2021

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH

There are a number of ways majors can gain research experience, including participation in the various programs listed below:

Distinguished Majors Program

The Department of Environmental Sciences participates in the College's Distinguished Majors Program designed for highly qualified students with an overall GPA of 3.4 or above. This study plan requires 12 hours of advanced work (6 hours for advanced course work related to the research specialization and 6 hours of Supervised/Thesis Research). These 12 credits may be used toward the EVSC major electives requirement. It is best to begin this program in the early portion of your third year. The project must be completed by the semester you plan to graduate.

For additional information, consult https://evsc.as.virginia.edu/undergraduate-research-opportunities or contact Mr. Tom Smith (tms9a@virginia.edu). Applications for admission to the program are required by early October (for exact deadlines please contact the DMP director), for a planned graduation the following May or August, and no later than mid-April for a planned graduation the following December. It is best to apply well ahead of these deadlines. 

If you expect to have an overall GPA of at least 3.4 upon graduation and are interested in doing a significant research project of your own, you should seriously consider this program. It is usually a 2- or 3-semester effort that involves working with a faculty member of your choice, developing a research proposal, doing the research and presenting it to a forum of peers and faculty.  Please see the faculty member with whom you would like to work and explore the program with them, or contact Mr. Tom Smith, DMP Director to discuss research.

Senior Thesis Program

The senior thesis option is available for all EVSC majors, regardless of GPA.  As with the DMP, these students will work similarly with a faculty member to develop a research idea, conduct the research, write a senior thesis, and present/defend this work.  Senior thesis students can earn six credits of Supervised/Thesis Research, which can count toward the EVSC major elective credit.  Interested students should see the faculty member with whom they would like to work and explore the program with them, or contact Mr. Tom Smith to discuss research opportunities.

Supervised Research and Independent Study

Supervised Research is not only a component of the Distinguished Majors and Senior Thesis Programs; indeed, any EVSC major may conduct supervised research.  Supervised Research is an excellent way to learn specific lab or field techniques as part of a faculty member’s research project. Students will use these research methodologies to generate data and analyze and produce results. To become involved, you should contact a faculty member whose area of research is of interest to you. If you simply want to gain lab or field experiences, then seek their advice on how to proceed. If you have your own research topic to propose, then seek their agreement to supervise your project. Such a project would usually involve background reading, data collection or analysis or any set of scientific research components agreed to by you and your supervisor, and a written report on your findings. Some projects may require more than one semester to complete, and some may even lead to publication in scientific journals or presentation at conferences. The experience of completing an undergraduate research project, besides being intellectually rewarding, provides excellent preparation for graduate work. Those who are considering graduate study are strongly encouraged to conduct a Supervised Research project in their third or fourth years.

Independent Study projects are developed in a similar manner, by contacting the faculty member with whom you would like to work, but Independent Study projects are not necessarily directly related to ongoing research efforts. Rather, they allow students to learn about an interesting and relevant topic (effectively on their own) that might be appropriate for a course, but that may not be specifically offered in our curriculum.  This is accomplished typically through reviewing literature, with a variety of on-campus or off-campus experiences, under the supervision of an EVSC faculty member.

Graduate Mentoring Program

The undergraduate research mentoring program seeks to connect undergraduate students who are interested in gaining experience with scientific research in the environmental sciences with graduate students who can provide those opportunities. Undergraduate students may either 1) assist a graduate student with an existing research project or 2) develop their own research project under the guidance of a graduate student. Due to the varied nature of student interests, research projects, and graduate student needs there is no single prescribed format for the research program or the mentor-mentee relationship. The undergraduate student often receives academic credit for their work although volunteering – especially for shorter-term research experiences – and employment are also possible outcomes.

For more information, please visit our web site at: https://evsc.as.virginia.edu/undergraduate-research-opportunities  Even though these projects will be done under direct supervision of a graduate student, to earn academic credit, the project must be initiated through, and approved by, an appropriate faculty person, usually the graduate student’s major advisor.

Paid Research Experiences

Many of the research projects in the Department need various types of skilled student labor during the school year and summer. If you are interested in using or developing a research skill for pay, please contact the faculty member of your choice to explore the possibility with them.

Summer Research Scholarships

Some of the research projects in the Department have scholarships for summer research work. Recently these have been through the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project and through Blandy Experimental Farm, https://evsc.as.virginia.edu/facilities, although several other programs offer these scholarships occasionally. Watch for notices of availability, or contact the faculty directing these projects in the fall or early spring.

END-OF-THE-YEAR ANNOUNCEMENTS

Departmental Awards Ceremony and Reception

The annual Departmental Award and Recognition Ceremony will be held virtually on Friday, May 7, 2021.  The undergraduate awards to be presented include the Wallace-Poole Award for the outstanding major and additional awards for each area of the department.  The Distinguished Major Program participants will be recognized, and the Grant Goodell Award for most outstanding interdisciplinary thesis will be given.  We urge you to attend this exciting event.

The Environmental Science Graduation Ceremony

We are still waiting for information regarding Final Exercises for the Class of 2021. Please stay tuned. https://majorevents.virginia.edu/message-president-ryan

CONCLUSION

You will get the most benefit from your experience as an Environmental Sciences major if you engage with the faculty, graduate students, and other undergraduate students in taking advantage of the broad range of academic, professional, and social activities in the Department.  Please get to know your advisor, your professors, your teaching assistants, your research colleagues, and your fellow students.  If you need any more information about your chosen field of study or about our program, please ask any member of the Department.