Learning Outside the Classroom
The very nature of science implies hands-on experimentation; the UVM environmental sciences program does not disappoint. Majors, along with their award-winning teaching scientists, study in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the state's northern forests, the sixth largest lake in the nation (Lake Champlain), and amidst a rich agricultural landscape.
The hallmark of an environmental sciences education is its emphasis on hands-on internships, research and service-learning projects. UVM's students contribute to society by working on environmental issues before ever leaving campus.
Classroom field study and research
The students and faculty work closely together in the field and laboratory to delve more deeply into course-appropriate problems. For example, in ENSC 201: Recovery and Restoration of Altered Ecosystems, students tackle recovery of a damaged ecosystem, such as a forest, stream or wetland. They develop a restoration plan based on their field work and acquire skills that will prepare them for on-the-job experiences after graduation. Lab and field work are integrated into many environmental sciences classes.
Examples of classes that integrate lab and field work: (Course codes/numbers link you to the official UVM Catalogue for that course's description): Environmental Geology: GEOL 55, Pollutant Movement/Air, Land and Water: ENSC 101, Recovery and Restoration of Altered Ecosystems: ENSC 201, Ecology and Evolution: BCOR 102 and Fundamentals of Soil Science: PSS 161.
UVM environmental sciences students have worked in a variety of capacities interning at a wide array of environmental organizations around the world. Some examples of intern projects:
- assessing mercury contamination in loons for the National Wildlife Federation
- designing a model for ecologically smart roof for an architectural firm specializing in "green buildings"
- working as a meteorologist intern at channel KJRH in Tulsa, OK
- working for the department of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, San Diego, CA
- consulting at local Greenleaf Consulting, Jericho, VT
- employment at the The F.A.R.M Institute, Martha's Vineyard
- conducting projects with the Outreach for Earth Stewardship
Environmental issues impact the world at large and UVM's environmental sciences department stresses this big picture. Often students opt to study abroad and gain a broader perspective on their environmental academics.
Independent field study and research with faculty
Often times, a student is inspired by a particular topic or faculty member's work. Further opportunities for independent research projects are always welcome and encouraged by faculty mentors, who lend support to this cutting-edge research. Funding for such projects can be found on a competitive basis through a number of undergraduate research programs at UVM such as HELiX (Hughes Endeavor for Life Science Excellence), URECA! (Undergraduate Research Endeavors Competitive Awards), APLE (Academic Programs for Learning and Engagement), the Undergraduate Environmental Biology Mentoring Program (UMEB) and the McNair Scholars Program.
Examples of recent research
- laboratory work analyzing the composition of atmospheric aerosols using time-of-flight mass spectrometry
- work with the National Science Foundation, Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, Toolik Field Station, Alaska
- work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
- field work investigating the destruction of coral reefs
- field work at the Student Conservation Association, Olympic National Forest
- studies of the role of the forest understory in the exchange of greenhouse gases in the Green Mountain National Forest
- work various projects within the colleges as well as with faculty at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at UVM.
Last modified September 08 2006 11:32 AM