Jul 20, 2024  
2015-2016 Undergraduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Science and Environmental Studies

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Eugene P. Parker
B.A., The Ohio State University, 1972; M.A. 1974, M.S. 1975; Ph.D., University of Colorado, 1981


Andrew Miller
B.A., Brown University, 1975; Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 1983

Jeffrey B. Halverson
B.S. University of Virginia, 1989; Ph.D.1995

Associate Professors

Matthew Baker
B.A. Emery University, 1992; M.S. University of Michigan, 1996; Ph.D. 2002

Erle Ellis
B.A. Cornell, 1986; Ph.D. 1990.

Christopher M. Swan
B.S., West Chester University, 1994; M.S. 1997, Ph.D. University of Maryland, 2003

Clinical Associate Professors

Sari J. Bennett
B.A. University of Illinois, 1970; M.A. 1972; Ph.D. 1977.

Assistant Professors

Dena Aufseeser
B.A., Brown University, 2003; M.Sc., London School of Economics, 2007; Ph.D., University of Washington, 2012

Dawn Biehler
B.A. Williams College, 1997; M.S. 2003; Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, 2007.

Matthew Fagan
B.S., University of Texas, Austin, 1998; M.S., Dartmouth College, 2003; Ph.D., Columbia University, 2014

Margaret Holland
B.A., Middlebury College, 1999; M.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009

David Lansing
B.A. University of Wyoming, 1999; M.A. Ohio State University, 2005, Ph.D. 2009

Colin Studds
B.S., Brown University, 1997; M.S. University of Rhode Island, 2001; Ph.D. University of Maryland, 2009


Suzanne Braunschweig
B.S., Towson University, 1988; Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University, 1993 (Director, Interdisciplinary Science)

Erwin Villiger
B.A., George Mason, 1994; M.S., George Mason, 1996; Ph.D., George Mason, 2008 (Director, Master in Professional Studies (M.P.S.): Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Shady Grove)

Associate Staff

Joseph School
B.A., State University of New York, Potsdam, 1982; M.A. Temple University, 1984


Two bachelor degree programs, a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.A. in Environmental Studies, are offered and administered by the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems (GES). In conjunction with the Secondary Education Program of UMBC’s Department of Education, there is also a degree track available for a B.S. in Environmental Science that satisfies both the curriculum requirements of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the secondary-education certification in earth and space science in the state of Maryland. Interested students are encouraged to speak with a member of the faculty for advising and information. They may send a message to ges@umbc.edu, which will be forwarded to the appropriate faculty. Many of the core and elective courses that can be used to meet requirements for the B.S. in Environmental Science or for the B.A. in Environmental Studies are offered within the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems, but some are taught by faculty from other departments across the university. The GES Department also offers two other majors, a B.S. in Geography and a B.A. in Geography. Students majoring in one of the four GES programs are not permitted to have a second major in GES, although they are able to have a second major in another department.

Career and Academic Paths

The B.S. in Environmental Science provides students with a strong grounding in both basic science and mathematics and in aspects of earth and environmental science that will enable them to address environmental problems from an interdisciplinary perspective. Graduates of the program will be eligible either for immediate employment or graduate study in earth science, environmental science or environmental engineering. Employment opportunities include public agencies, private-sector companies and non-profit organizations, or K-12 science education with a focus on earth and environment. The jobs available may involve field, laboratory and computer work using skills and knowledge in biogeography and landscape ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, soils, watershed processes, atmospheric science, environmental chemistry, biogeochemical cycling, water quality, estuarine processes, GIS, remote sensing and computer modeling. The educational objectives of the B.A. in Environmental Studies share many aspects of the objectives defined for the B.S. in Environmental Science, particularly at the introductory level. The B.A. program has a stronger emphasis on environmental policy and on the political, economic and cultural aspects of environmental problems, as well as on conservation strategies, risk analysis, environmental ethics and aesthetics. Opportunities for employment and graduate education focus more heavily on policy and management issues, including planning, natural resource management, urban issues, transportation, environmental education, environmental health, environmental justice, environmental economics and sustainable development.

Academic Advising

Students who decide to major in environmental science or environmental studies will meet regularly with a faculty advisor to determine what combination of courses, selected from within geography and environmental systems and from other disciplines, are best suited to meeting their goals. Those who plan to attend graduate school are strongly encouraged to gain proficiency in statistical techniques. Students also should consult with faculty advisors to ensure their academic background includes other appropriate prerequisites if they are interested in pursuing graduate degrees.

Major Programs

Both the B.A. and B.S. degrees include common foundation courses, a set of introductory-level requirements and a series of upper-level areas of concentration. The B.S. degree requires more credits (67) than the B.A. degree (57). However the need for science background mandates that the B.A. in Environmental Studies requires a larger number of credits than most other B.A. programs.

Evening Option

Evening courses are offered occasionally, but generally, no more than three evening courses are offered in a single semester. Required core courses are almost always offered during daytime hours only.

Special Opportunities

Numerous internship opportunities are available for students who wish to pursue a practical work experience with local, state or federal government agencies, private corporations or non-profit organizations. Some, but not all, of these are paid internships. Advanced students also have the opportunity to work with faculty on a range of research projects funded by agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the U.S. Forest Service. Students also may develop their own independent study projects in collaboration with a faculty advisor. Several of our students have won competitive awards to pursue their own independent research projects through the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Initiative. Some of the opportunities for research and internships at UMBC that are particularly noteworthy are associated with the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (www.ecostudies.org/bes), the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE)(www.umbc.edu/cuere/), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Water Science Center, and the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET) (www.umbc.edu/jcet), a UMBC/NASA partnership. Students interested in these opportunities should consult with a faculty adviser. Other research opportunities for working with faculty will be publicized on the department Web site.

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study is one of only two NSF-funded Urban Long-Term Ecological Research sites in the United States. This is a long-term project with participation by scientists from many institutions and agencies, with the common goal of studying the internal structure and functioning of the Baltimore metropolitan area as an ecosystem involving interactions between humans and the natural and built environments. The field headquarters of this project are located on campus, and students are often hired as interns and field assistants.

Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE)

The mission of CUERE is to advance understanding of the environmental, social and economic consequences of transformation of the urban and suburban landscape. It performs its mission through cooperative research projects, conferences and symposia, and support of university teaching programs. Students interested in science, policy or historical development of the urban environment may be able to work as interns on research projects through CUERE.

Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET)

JCET operates under a cooperative agreement between UMBC and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. JCET meets the common interest of UMBC and GSFC to develop new technology for environmental remote sensing. JCET research focuses on four themes: atmospheric radiation, observations, clouds and precipitation, and interdisciplinary studies. Several JCET researchers teach climatology and weather classes in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems and are interested in sponsoring students as interns.


Courses in this program are listed under GES.


    Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of ScienceNon-Degree

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