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Environmental Science Programs
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

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Soil erosion, desert expansion, water pollution, ground water mining, habitat loss, species extinction, resource shortages, overpopulation - these are the challenges for the new millennium. If we are to sustain the planet beyond the next generation, the 21st century will require innovative solutions to these crucial issues. Society needs highly qualified scientists to develop these solutions and meet these challenges. At the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, a Major in Biology, Chemistry, Geography, or Microbiology with a Concentration in Environmental Science or Aquatic Science offers stimulating and rewarding educational and career opportunities. We invite you to meet the Challenge!

Public demand for definitive action to improve the environment is increasing nationally and internationally. A recent poll commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation found overwhelming support for the environment and regulations implemented to protect it. Expenditures for environmental protection reflect this demand. The United States, for example, spends approximately 2% of its Gross National Product to protect and clean up the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that expenditures will exceed 2.8 % ($200 billion) of the Gross National Product.

Employment opportunities for highly trained environmental professionals are growing. Jobs in the highly technical areas of environmental protection and improvement -- especially in air and water quality management, solid and hazardous waste management, environmental chemistry, toxicology and related areas -- are expected to remain strong.

Excellent Education From Excellent Programs

A strength of the concentrations in environmental science or aquatic science is derived from our philosophy that all science students should major in a traditional natural science with a strong emphasis on developing quantitative problem-solving skills. Thus, all students with an environmental science or aquatic science concentration first complete a suite of core courses in biology, chemistry, or geography. Courses in environmental and aquatic sciences are then taken as electives. Therefore, students gain breadth and depth of knowledge obtained from a traditionally structured major in the natural sciences and then focus on courses specifically designed to meet the needs of environmental professionals.

Unique Programs in a Unique Setting

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is located adjacent to the Mississippi River, one of the major river systems of the world, and is a short distance from many other outstanding natural resources. This setting provides abundant opportunities for teaching and research in the environmental sciences. Several classes regularly include field trips to these areas to study both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Partners in Education

Because of its proximity to the Mississippi River, the La Crosse area includes several prominent federal and state agencies that conduct research and manage the upper Mississippi River basin. These agencies include the U.S. Geological Survey (Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (La Crosse Fish Health Center, La Crosse Fishery Resource Office, and the National Fish and Wildlife Refuge), and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The University has established cooperative education agreements with several of these agencies, enabling them to offer internship and employment opportunities to our students during their degree programs. Scientists at these institutions are integral to the success of environmental sciences at UW-La Crosse. More than 20 scientists from these agencies are adjunct faculty to the University.

Other Program Highlights

The University has remodeled laboratories in biology, aquatic toxicology, chemistry, and a state-of-the-art facility for geographic information systems (GIS). Small class sizes offer students a chance for individualized attention and hands-on learning.

Other features of our environmental and aquatic science programs include:

  • Undergraduate research--This has become a new campus-wide focus at UW-La Crosse. Research experiences are extremely valuable for students as they develop their professional interests and goals. UW-La Crosse has a competitive, campus-wide research program in which successful students receive a summer stipend and support for purchasing supplies and equipment. Recipients of these stipends publish their results in a campus research journal devoted to undergraduate research. Because of ongoing environmental research projects by faculty and cooperating scientists in local, state, and federal agencies, students with research interests are actively recruited and given opportunities to participate in these projects.

  • Study abroad programs--UW-La Crosse has an active, well publicized study abroad program and has established connections with several universities in foreign countries.

  • Faculty research programs--During the past 10 years, externally funded research grants awarded to environmental science faculty have averaged more than $200,000 per year.

  • A solid record of job placement--Recent employers of our students include the U.S. Geological Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and numerous private consulting firms and corporations.

  • Strong advising--Each environmental and aquatic science student has a faculty member who meets individually with them to plan course work, internships, and career strategies.

  • Internships/Research Assistantships--Diverse, real-world opportunities for internships and summer employment exist in the environmental and aquatic sciences.

  • Dynamic Curricula--Emphasis is on interdisciplinary course work, problem-solving skills, and the development of technical field, laboratory, and computer skills.

This web site provides an overview of the Aquatic Science Concentration in Biology, and the Environmental Science Concentrations in Biology, Chemistry, and Geography. It also includes a discussion of internships, placement after graduation, and other related academic programs.

Meet the Challenge!