Jan 21, 2021  
Graduate Record 2006-2007 
Graduate Record 2006-2007 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Environmental Sciences

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Degree Requirements

In addition to fulfilling the general University requirements for graduate degrees, all graduate students must  pass a 3- or 4-credit graduate level non-seminar course in each of the core areas of the department: atmospheric sciences, ecology, geosciences, and hydrology. A candidate for an advanced degree must present and publicly defend before their committee a thesis or dissertation proposal. In addition, Ph.D. candidates must pass a comprehensive examination within four semesters of residency and also take one additional 700-level 3- or 4-credit non-seminar course. The specific courses needed for graduation are established by the student’s individual committee, depending on research requirements. The department has no uniform foreign language requirement; however, a student may be required by his or her thesis or dissertation committee to demonstrate competence in a foreign language.

A master’s of arts degree candidate must complete a minimum of 30 credits of course work at the graduate level, exclusive of 800-level and 900-level research courses. The student’s M.A. program of study is developed in consultation with the candidate’s major professor and approved by the Department’s Graduate Academic Review Committee. Training in ecology, hydrology, atmospheric science, and geosciences is expected of the degree candidate. Please refer to the departmental web site for further details.

Research Programs

Active research programs emphasizing basic science exist within each of the core areas of the department. In addition, a number of current research efforts aim to integrate many or all of the core disciplines in order to address complex environmental questions from a comprehensive viewpoint. Details on current research projects and interests of individual faculty are available on the department web site or from the department on request.


The Department of Environmental Sciences is located in Clark Hall, along with the Brown Science and Engineering Library, on the central Grounds of the University. Additional laboratory space is located in adjacent Kerchof and Halsey Halls .Departmental facilities include field vehicles, boats, aerial photographic interpretation equipment, machine and electronics shops, environmental chambers, analytical chemistry laboratories, mass-spectrometer facility, greenhouse and insectary facilities, and a computer laboratory in support of remote sensing/GIS/weather-related research. The department maintains a Unix Sun Ultra Workstation that continuously ingests data from the Unidata Internet Data Delivery (IDD) real-time data stream which contains satellite imagery, meteorological model initializations and forecasts from meso- to hemispheric scale, atmospheric soundings, hourly surface data, radar data, along with weather watches and warnings from the National Center for Environmental Prediction. These data are accessible through Unidata software including McIDAS and the 3-D Integrated Data Viewer (IDV). A computer lab of six Dell workstations is available with GIS software and is used for teaching. Several large format flat panel LCD screens are available for teaching and presentations, along with large format color printers. The department has a geographic information system (GIS) laboratory equipped with several SUN workstations running ERDAS and ARCINFO software. Appropriate color output devices are available. Departmental field facilities include several instrumented watersheds in and adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park, in the coastal plain, and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The Pace-Steger Estate is a department research facility in a Piedmont secondary forest that includes hydrological and meteorological monitoring equipment. The Virginia State Climatology Office is located within the department.

The department also operates the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research (VCR/LTER) site under funding provided by the National Science Foundation. This site is one of 18 which provide an international focus on ecosystem properties. The VCR/LTER’s primary focus is in spatial and temporal variation in a barrier island-lagoon complex that leads to changes in ecosystem states.

Blandy Farm

The Blandy Experimental Farm provides residential, greenhouse, laboratory, and field facilities for student and faculty research. It is particularly well-suited for manipulative field experiments in agricultural, old field, and forest environments.

Moore Lectures

The department presents a University-wide series of lectures under the sponsorship of Mr. Fred H. Moore, an alumnus of the University. These are delivered annually by nationally known authorities on broad areas of environmental concern to society.

Course Descriptions

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