EARTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
2017—2018

EARTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES FACULTY

UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM DEPARTMENTAL ADVISING EXPERTS 2017–2018: All program faculty

Department/Program Home Page

Department/Program Description

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Department (E&ES) at Wesleyan University covers many aspects of the natural world, on Earth and on other planets. Course topics range from active volcanoes to climate change to eco-conservation. The E&ES major is designed to prepare students for graduate school as well as provide a basis for a variety of careers in the private or public sectors. Courses in geology, environmental science/environmental chemistry, environmental science/ecology, and planetary geology lead to different areas of specialization and career options. Many E&ES students work with faculty on research projects that range from climate studies to active volcanoes in the Andes, from the structure of the Grand Canyon to the structure of the planet Venus, from coastal areas nearby (Long Island Sound) to lagoons far away (Vieques Island, Puerto Rico). The culmination of the major is a capstone course where students perform independent research in the field (such as Puerto Rico, Death Valley, or Hawaii).

General Education

Candidates for honors in E&ES are required to complete the University’s General Education Expectations through stage II.

Student Learning Goals

Students graduating with a BA degree in earth and environmental sciences should be able to:

  • Decipher the structure, composition, and dynamics of the earth system. The student should understand the structure and composition of earth’s spheres (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere), and how these spheres interact with one another and change over time.
  • Apply the scientific method. The student should be able to develop and test scientific hypotheses.
  • Understand data. The student should understand how earth and environmental sciences data are produced, interpreted, and applied.
  • Apply quantitative tools. The student should be able to select and apply appropriate quantitative techniques to earth and environmental sciences questions (e.g., calculus, statistics, spatial analysis).
  • Use the primary literature. The student should be able to search for and understand publications from the primary scientific literature.
  • Critically evaluate scientific claims. The student should be able to critique arguments made in the earth and environmental sciences literature.
  • Communicate. The student should be able to present earth and environmental sciences data and their interpretation in a variety of written, visual, and oral formats.
  • Conduct research. The student should be able to carry out an original research project, including: the identification of a research problem; the formulation of a hypothesis; the design of the methodology; the collection, processing, and interpretation of data; and the presentation of findings in written, visual, and oral formats.
Admission to the Major

Gateway courses for the major

To declare E&ES as a major, students are required to have completed an E&ES gateway course (E&ES101, E&ES115, E&ES197, or E&ES199), and to have completed (or be currently taking) two gateway courses (or higher) in biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics.

E&ES101 Dynamic Earth 1
E&ES115 Introduction to Planetary Geology 1
E&ES197 Introduction to Environmental Studies 1
E&ES199 Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability 1

Sophomore Seminar

E&ES195 Sophomore Field Course 0.5
Major Requirements
  • E&ES gateway course (E&ES101, E&ES115, E&ES197, or E&ES199).
  • Earth and environmental scientists need a broad background in the natural sciences. Therefore, E&ES majors are required to take one year (two semesters) of gateway courses from two of the following disciplines for a total of four courses: biology (BIOL181/BIOL182), chemistry (CHEM141/CHEM142 or CHEM143/CHEM144), mathematics (MATH117/MATH118, MATH119/MATH120, or MATH121/MATH122), or physics (PHYS111/PHYS112 or PHYS113/PHYS116). Upper-level courses in these disciplines can be substituted, as can statistics courses for mathematics. Students are urged to complete these introductory courses within their first two years. Students considering professional work in the sciences are encouraged to take gateways in more than two disciplines, including any associated lab courses, as well as upper-level coursework in other natural science and mathematics disciplines.
  • The Sophomore Field Course (E&ES195). This course is typically taken during the spring semester of the sophomore year. 
  • The Senior Seminar (E&ES497). This capstone is typically taken in the senior year.
  • For the Class of 2020 and earlier: Seven upper-level courses, comprised of three "cores" and four "electives." Lab courses associated with the primary courses are required. Up to two upper-level natural science or math courses taken in other departments can count as electives; up to two preapproved courses from study-abroad programs can also count as cores or electives. At least four of the upper-level courses must be Wesleyan E&ES courses. Tutorial and the senior thesis do not count towards the requirement.

The Department of E&ES does not require completion of Wesleyan's General Education Requirements to complete the major. Honors students are required to complete Wesleyan's General Education Requirements through stage II.

Core Courses

E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES215
E&ES216
Earth Materials
and Earth Materials Laboratory
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES230
E&ES231
Sedimentology
and Sedimentology/Stratigraphy Techniques
1.5
E&ES234
E&ES235
Geobiology
and Geobiology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES250
E&ES251
Environmental Geochemistry
and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
BIOL216 Ecology 1

Elective courses

E&ES244
E&ES245
Soils
and Soils Laboratory
1.5
E&ES246
E&ES247
Hydrology
and Hydrology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES270 Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences 1
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES313
E&ES314
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
and Laboratory Study of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
1.5
E&ES317
E&ES318
Volcanology
and Volcanology Lab Course
1.5
E&ES321 Planetary Evolution 1
E&ES359 Global Climate Change 1
E&ES361 Living in a Polluted World 1
E&ES368 Isotope Geochemistry 1
E&ES375 Modeling the Earth and Environment 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5

Senior Seminar

E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

For the Class of 2021 and later: Seven upper-level courses. Five of these courses must cover the following thematic areas: two from "Earth and Planets" (numbered 201-233 and 301-333), two from "Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Atmosphere" (numbered 234-266 and 334-366), and one from "Methods" (numbered 267-299 and 367-399). Lab courses associated with the primary courses are required. The remaining two courses may come from any thematic area. Also, the following can be used: Up to two upper-level natural science or math courses taken in other departments, and up to two preapproved courses from study-abroad programs. At least four of the upper-level courses must be Wesleyan E&ES courses. Tutorials and the senior thesis do not count towards the requirement.

The Department of E&ES does not require completion of Wesleyan's General Education Requirements to complete the major. Honors students are required to complete Wesleyan's General Education Requirements through stage II.

Earth and Planet courses

E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES215
E&ES216
Earth Materials
and Earth Materials Laboratory
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES230
E&ES231
Sedimentology
and Sedimentology/Stratigraphy Techniques
1.5
E&ES313
E&ES314
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
and Laboratory Study of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
1.5
E&ES317
E&ES318
Volcanology
and Volcanology Lab Course
1.5
E&ES319
E&ES320
Meteorites and Cosmochemistry
and Meteorites Laboratory
1.5
E&ES321 Planetary Evolution 1

Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Atmosphere courses

E&ES234
E&ES235
Geobiology
and Geobiology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES238 The Forest Ecosystem 1
E&ES240 Invasive Species: Biology, Policy, and Management 1
E&ES242 Ecological Resilience: The Good, The Bad, and The Mindful 1.25
E&ES244
E&ES245
Soils
and Soils Laboratory
1.5
E&ES246
E&ES247
Hydrology
and Hydrology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES250
E&ES251
Environmental Geochemistry
and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
E&ES359 Global Climate Change 1
E&ES361 Living in a Polluted World 1

Method courses

E&ES270 Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences 1
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES368 Isotope Geochemistry 1
E&ES375 Modeling the Earth and Environment 1
E&ES380 Advanced GIS and Spatial Analyses 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5

Career Options and the E&ES major

Earth and environmental sciences majors go on to pursue a wide range of careers, limited only by their own imaginations. E&ES courses can be selected to help prepare for a student’s long-term interests. The course listings below are not requirements, but suggested guidelines. Students interested in academic or research careers should consider involvement in research or producing a senior thesis.

Geology. These courses can help prepare students for academic careers or jobs in industry or government in natural resource or geohazard management (e.g., USGS, water resources, mining and energy industries).

E&ES101 Dynamic Earth 1
E&ES115 Introduction to Planetary Geology 1
E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES230
E&ES231
Sedimentology
and Sedimentology/Stratigraphy Techniques
1.5
E&ES246
E&ES247
Hydrology
and Hydrology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES313
E&ES314
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
and Laboratory Study of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
1.5
E&ES317
E&ES318
Volcanology
and Volcanology Lab Course
1.5
E&ES321 Planetary Evolution 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

Environmental Science/Environmental Chemistry. These courses can help prepare students for jobs in consulting, government, or nonprofit organizations (e.g., EPA, NOAA, USGS, state agencies), or for academic careers in climate science and water resources.

E&ES197 Introduction to Environmental Studies 1
E&ES199 Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability 1
E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES234
E&ES235
Geobiology
and Geobiology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES244
E&ES245
Soils
and Soils Laboratory
1.5
E&ES250
E&ES251
Environmental Geochemistry
and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
E&ES270 Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences 1
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES359 Global Climate Change 1
E&ES368 Isotope Geochemistry 1
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5
BIOL216 Ecology 1

Environmental Science/Ecology. These courses can help prepare students for jobs in government, consulting, and nonprofit organizations (e.g., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state conservation agencies, Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society) or academic careers in conservation and natural resource management.

E&ES197 Introduction to Environmental Studies 1
E&ES199 Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability 1
E&ES234
E&ES235
Geobiology
and Geobiology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES244
E&ES245
Soils
and Soils Laboratory
1.5
E&ES250
E&ES251
Environmental Geochemistry
and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
E&ES270 Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences 1
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES359 Global Climate Change 1
E&ES368 Isotope Geochemistry 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

Planetary Geology. These courses can help prepare students for jobs in government and industry (e.g., NASA, remote sensing, and GIS contractors) or for academic careers in space science and remote sensing.

E&ES101 Dynamic Earth 1
E&ES115 Introduction to Planetary Geology 1
E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES313
E&ES314
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
and Laboratory Study of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
1.5
E&ES317
E&ES318
Volcanology
and Volcanology Lab Course
1.5
E&ES321 Planetary Evolution 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

Capstone Experience
E&ES409 Senior Thesis Tutorial 1
E&ES410 Senior Thesis Tutorial 1
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5
Honors

Candidates for honors in E&ES are required to complete the University's General Education Expectations through stage II.

Related Programs or Certificates
  • The College of the Environment, which includes the environmental studies-linked major and Environmental Studies Certificate, provides a linkage between the sciences, public policy, economics, and the arts and provides a wide variety of career options.
  • The Planetary Science Group and the Planetary Science Course Cluster seek to understand the origin and evolution of the solar system in which we live and the other solar systems that we have identified in our galaxy.
  • The Service-Learning Center and Service-Learning Course Cluster seek to broaden students’ understanding of course content through activities that are, at the same time, of service to the community.
BA/MA Program

[wesleyan.edu/grad/degree-programs/ba-ma.html]

This program provides an attractive option for science majors to enrich their course and research background. The course requirements for the BA/MA are the same as the MA. It is important for students interested in the BA/MA program to plan a course of study early enough (nominally in the junior year) to meet the MA requirements over both the senior and MA years. Admission is competitive and based on GPA, faculty recommendations, and research experience.

Graduate Program

General Introduction

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Department offers a program leading to the degree of master of arts in earth and environmental sciences. This program is designed for students who desire further training prior to initiation of a doctoral program at another university or for whom the master’s degree will be the terminal degree. Graduate students are offered a unique opportunity for accelerated and personal instruction in a small department setting, with strengths in geology, volcanology, ocean sciences, planetary science, and environmental science. All admitted students are offered a full tuition waiver, stipend, and benefits for this two-year program.

Courses

Students who possess the equivalent of a Wesleyan E&ES BA degree are required to take six upper-level course credits (of which at least four must be in E&ES) and two MA thesis research credits (E&ES549 and E&ES550). In addition, students are required to take three years (six semesters) of courses from a minimum of two of the following disciplines: mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology. Students who do not possess the equivalent of a Wesleyan E&ES BA degree must complete or have completed 11 upper-level courses in the sciences or mathematics, and at least five of these must be E&ES courses. All students are expected to enroll in E&ES557 each semester it is offered. A student's thesis committee will decide the required coursework for the MA. All full-time graduate students are expected to complete all courses with a grade of B- or better. Failure to achieve these minimal expectations incurs automatic dismissal from the program.

Progress and Qualifying Exams

Thesis Proposal and Thesis Committee. Upon admission to the program, the student will meet with the E&ES Graduate Program Committee to discuss the general requirements and goals of graduate study. Students should  select an advisor, thesis topic, and thesis committee by the end of the first semester. After students have made a choice of faculty advisor and thesis committee, they must, in cooperation with the advisor, write a one- to two-page thesis proposal, in which they provide an outline of the proposed research. The thesis committee will read the proposal and discuss it with the student before acceptance of the research project. At the beginning of each semester, and at the beginning of the summer, each graduate student will be asked to prepare a written summary (two to three pages) of their progress and accomplishments and meet with their thesis committee. This summary will be reviewed by the thesis committee to discuss and evaluate the student’s progress; failure to make adequate progress can be grounds for dismissal from the program. The discussion of the committee will be summarized by the student’s advisor and relayed to the student in writing.

Qualifying Exam. Competence in general knowledge about the earth and environmental sciences will be assessed by a written examination taken after the end of the second semester. The thesis advisor, in concert with the E&ES faculty, will construct several questions. The student will then have three days to answer these questions. The student can use any written source for guidance ("open book" format), and each answer should not exceed one page (single-spaced). The committee and any interested E&ES faculty will then meet with the student to have a 30-minute conversation about the questions and answers. Based on the outcome of the exam, the committee may suggest coursework or independent study on particular topics.

Teaching

Graduate students are expected to fully participate in the scholarly activities of the department, including teaching opportunities, attending departmental seminars, and presenting their own work to the Wesleyan and scientific communities.

Thesis/Dissertation/Defense

Thesis and Oral Examination. The culmination of the master’s program is the completion and acceptance of a thesis and its successful oral defense. The format of the written work is to be discussed and agreed upon with the student’s advisor and committee. The advisor and thesis committee, in consultation with the student, will agree upon the schedule of the defense. All members of the thesis committee must have read and must approve, in writing, a complete thesis before a defense can be scheduled. Practically, this requires that a thesis draft, already vetted by the advisor, be made available to the remainder of the thesis committee at least one month before any proposed defense date. Once the committee has agreed that the thesis is ready to defend, the form for scheduling the defense can be obtained from the E&ES Department. The student is responsible for following all University requirements for the format and scheduling of the thesis. The oral examination will focus on the thesis.

Concentrations

Planetary science is an emerging interdisciplinary field at the intersection of geology and astronomy with substantial contributions from physics, chemistry, and biology. The subject matter is planets, including those around other stars (exosolar systems). The science questions include the most important of our times: How do planets (including Earth) form? How common are they in the universe? What is their range of properties and how do they evolve? Is there or was there ever life on other planets? Certainly, the discovery of even microbial life beyond Earth would rank as one of the greatest human achievements of all time, and this quest lies squarely within the purview of planetary science.

Program of Study. MA or BA/MA students in the natural sciences and mathematics may elect a course of study resulting in the planetary science concentration. The concentration is designed to engage students in the research results, skills, and methods of planetary science. The planetary science concentration requires:

  • Completion of a minimum of four courses from the list below with a grade of B- of better. At least one of these courses must be from a department outside the student’s home department.
  • Students are also required to attend the Planetary Science Seminar, ASTR555/E&ES555.
  • All students must complete a written thesis on a topic relevant to planetary science. A member of the student’s thesis committee will be from the planetary science concentration committee. The planetary science concentration will be designated on the student’s transcript upon the successful completion of this program of study and MA requirements of the student’s home department. For more information, please contact the any of the members of the planetary science concentration committee or the graduate school.

Planetary Science Concentration Committee: Martha Gilmore, Earth and Environmental Sciences; James Greenwood, Earth and Environmental Sciences; William Herbst, Astronomy; Meredith Hughes, Astronomy; Seth Redfield, Astronomy

Planetary Science Courses

Planetary Science Courses
Select at least 4 of the following (one from outside the home department): 4
Exoplanets: Formation, Detection, and Characterization
Stellar Structure and Evolution
Galaxies, Quasars, and Cosmology
Evolution
Microbiology
Physical Chemistry I: Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy
and Physical Chemistry II: Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics, and Kinetics
Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
Biochemistry
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
Volcanology
Meteorites and Cosmochemistry
Planetary Evolution
Modeling the Earth and Environment
Introduction to GIS
Waves and Oscillations
MATH AND COMP courses as appropriate in consultation with advisor
Seminar
ASTR/E&ES555 Planetary Science Seminar (offered each semester; take a minimum of three semesters) 0.75
Thesis
The MA degree program requires a thesis that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research in planetary science. The specific guidelines for the thesis are those of the student’s home department.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For additional information, please visit wesleyan.edu/ees/graduate.