Curriculum & Courses | Environmental Science

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Curriculum & Courses

Graduate Environmental Science Courses

Click here for a list of the typical semesters our courses are offered. See below for descriptions.

Core Requirements - You must take at least one semester of Biology Seminar (BIOL 5860) and one graduate level statistics course (suggestions follow).

BIOL 5860. Biology Seminar Series. 1 hour. Weekly seminar series covering a broad range of biological research topics. Invited speakers are prominent local, regional or national researchers.

GEOG 5185 Statistical Research Methods. 3 hours. Application of fundamental statistical techniques to natural sciences research . Prerequisite(s): consent of department. Meets with GEOG 4185.

GEOG 5190. Advanced Quantitative Techniques. 3 hours. Application of advanced statistical procedures including multivariate techniques to analysis of point and areal patterns and spatial data. Prerequisite(s): GEOG 3190 or consent of department.

BIOL 5310. Experimental Design in Biology. 3 hours. Optimizing the design of field and laboratory experiments to aid in data analysis. Develops concepts of statistical power, efficiency, and univariate and multivariate tools of use in biological sampling programs. Prerequisite(s): BIOL 5130 or equivalent or consent of department.

PSYC 5700. Quantitative Methods I. 4 hours. (3;1) Graduate-level introduction to statistical methods of data analysis including introduction to robust methods, effect size estimation, correlational methods (e.g., regression), ANOVA. Assumes knowledge from undergraduate course. In lab, students learn to use computer programs for quantitative data exploration and analysis. Prerequisite(s): an introductory course in statistics.

A. Ecology and Evolution Group

BIOL 5260. Principles of Evolution. 3 hours. Genetic, systematic, ecological, historical and geographical concepts of evolution. Prerequisite(s): consent of department.

BIOL 5050. Foundations of Ecological Theory. 3 hours. Background and concepts of ecological theory are reviewed through the survey of both original and current literature. Prerequisite(s): statistics and ecology or consent of instructor.

GEOG 5710. Ecosystem Science (coming soon). 3 hours. Ecosystem science studies interactions between organisms and the physical environment as an integrated system and seeks to understand the factors that regulate the quantity and flow of materials and energy through ecosystems. Course lectures will cover the history and use of the ecosystem concept, factors governing the distribution and structure of ecosystems, relationships between ecosystem structure and function, and the influence of natural and human processes on ecosystem dynamics. Current topics and methods in ecosystem science will be discussed in class and examined through case studies.

BIOL (5051 & 5052) Community Ecology. 4 hours. Structure, dynamics and diversity of biotic communities and ecosystems. Focus on population interactions, niche relationships and processing of matter and energy. Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of biology including BIOL 2140.

B. Physical & Chemical Group

GEOG 5400. Environmental Modeling. 3 hours. This course introduces types and applications of environmental modeling, as well as model validation. The contents of the course include (1) introduction and concepts of hydrological processes and environmental modeling and visualization; (2) processing DEM, computing slope, flow direction, flow accumulation and delineating watershed; (3) precipitation; (3) soil, soil moisture, infiltration, Richards' Equation, soil database and soil map; (4) evaporation and evapotranspiration (ET), and parameterization of ET; (5) surface runoff, subsurface runoff, drainage, and logistical functions; (6) solving water balance equation using Newton-Raphson method; (7) spatially distributed hydrological model; (8) solving energy balance equation, solar radiation, long wave radiation, latent heat flux, sensible heat flux and ground heat flux.

GEOG 5700. Global Environmental Change. 3 hours. This course will explore current scientific and policy perspectives on key issues of global environmental change. Potential topics include terrestrial and ocean acidification, land-use and land cover-change, climate change, desertification, and biodiversity loss. Through reading, lecture, discussion, and written assignments, students will learn to critically examine the scientific evidence for such phenomena and the attendant consequences for Earth's physical chemical, and biological systems. Policy responses to GEC will be compared, assessed, and then debated following student-to- student exchange of written commentary.

BIOL 5120. Environmental Chemistry. 3 hours. Presents a scientific overview of environmental contaminants, their occurrence, sources and impact on humans and the environment. Prerequisite(s): 8 hours of chemistry.

BIOL 6390. Techniques in Environmental Analysis. 3 hours. Theory and application of advanced analytical chemistry techniques for metals and organics in biological and environmental samples. Introduces methods from trace metals analysis and identification techniques. Laboratory teaches state-of-the-art spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques.

C. Environmental Health Group

CSCE 5820. Computational Epidemiology. 3 hours. Application of computational methods to problems in the field of public health. Design and implementation of disease outbreak models. Same as BIOL 5820 and GEOG 5960. Meets with CSCE 4820.

GEOG 5140. Medical Geography. 3 hours. Locational aspects of disease and health care, spatial patterns of diseases, health facilities, and health care policies and problems. Individual project required. Prerequisite(s): consent of department. Meets with GEOG 4120.

BIOL 5370. General Toxicology. 3 hours. Introduction to the basic principles of toxicology. Focus on absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of toxicants; target organ toxicity; mechanisms of toxic action; carcinogenesis; and risk assessment. Prerequisite(s): 8 hours each of biology and chemistry. Meets with BIOL 4370.

GEOG 5960. GIS in Health. 3 hours. Spatial analysis, geographic information system (GIS) and computational methods for public health applications including disease mapping, disease clustering and exposure modeling. Location-allocation methods for measuring access to health care services also are discussed. Meets with GEOG 4580.

D. Social Science Group

BIOL 5045 Teaching Life Sciences. 3 hours. Introduces graduate students interested in teaching at the undergraduate level as teaching assistants or teaching fellows, future college professors, science education specialists, etc. to the relationship between learning science and teaching science. Challenges students to bring to teaching the same critical thinking, rigor, creativity and spirit of experimentation that is brought to research. Covers a variety of topics essential to a successful graduate experience and a career in the current world of science.

PHIL 5000. Environmental Ethics. 3 hours. An examination of the philosophical origins of environmental philosophy and the basic positions in the field of environmental ethics. Key authors in environmental philosophy are surveyed, as well as topical considerations of a variety of schools of thought with emphasis on theories of environmental value, legal and moral rights for nature, animal liberation and Western philosophical and religious traditions.

PHIL 5010. Seminar in the Philosophy of Ecology. 3 hours. Traces the evolution of ecology from its roots in 19th-century natural history to the present with an emphasis on the prominent paradigms and conceptual trends, such as organicism, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, disturbance and flux. Also explores the sociocultural contexts in which ecology emerged and now exists, including the so-called second scientific revolution and the two-culture split.

BIOL 5100. Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment. 3 hours. Principles and practices of preparing environmental impact assessments and statements. Addresses how to understand the effects that projects, plans and policies have on the environment and the impact those effects have on specific resources, ecosystems and human communities. Methods for identifying impacts, describing the affected environment, predicting and assessing impacts and selecting the proposed action from a group of alternatives for meeting specific needs will be examined. A detailed review of an environmental assessment and environmental impact statement are required.

BIOL 6400. Ecological Risk Assessment. 3 hours. Detailed treatment of aquatic and terrestrial methods and procedures used to assess the ecological hazard of chemicals in the environment. Emphasizes quantitative methods in testing site assessment, monitoring procedures, regulatory requirements and field and laboratory techniques useful to assess damage to aquatic, terrestrial and avian resources.Prerequisite(s): Ecology, statistics, general chemistry (8 hours), or consent of instructor.Detailed treatment of aquatic and terrestrial methods and procedures used to assess the ecological hazard of chemicals in the environment. Emphasizes quantitative methods in testing site assessment, monitoring procedures, regulatory requirements and field and laboratory techniques useful to assess damage to aquatic, terrestrial and avian resources. Prerequisite(s): Ecology, statistics, general chemistry (8 hours), or consent of instructor.

E. Organismal Biology Group

BIOL 5005. Ornithology. 3 hours. Classification, distribution, ecology, adaptations, and behavior of birds. Emphasis on both local and global species. Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of biology or consent of department.

BIOL 5005. Mammalogy. 3 hours. Introduction to the Class Mammalia. Emphasis on diversity, ecological roles, evolution, conservation, and the importance of mammals in human culture. Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of biology or consent of department.

BIOL 5040. Fish Diversity and Ecology. 4 hours. This course explores fish diversity and ecology, including form and function, evolution and taxonomic diversity of major lineages, and fish behavior, ecology, and conservation. The lab component provides hands-on experience with fish diversity and field collection, preservation and identification of fishes from Texas and around the world. Must take both the lecture and lab (two separate course numbers). Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of biology or consent of department.

BIOL 5070. Insect Biology. 4 hours. Morphology, physiology, ethology, classification and control of insects and related arthropods. Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of biology.

BIOL 5505. Comparative Animal Physiology. 3 hours. Comparison of structure and physiological function in a wide variety of animals. Emphasis on thermoregulation and on respiratory, circulatory, excretory, endocrine and digestive systems. Prerequisite(s): 8 hours of biology.

BIOL 5503. Plant Physiology. 3 hours. Plant physiology from the molecular to organismal level with ecosystem considerations. Topics include nutrient acquisition and distribution, biochemistry and metabolism, growth and development.

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