You are here: Environmental Science

Environmental Science at AU

Three people wearing gloves and holding a bucket in shallow water

Our program trains students to become effective advocates for the environment. The curriculum consists of rigorous science- and policy-based courses and experiential learning that prepare our students for exciting careers in the environmental field. The program offers undergraduate (BA/BS) and graduate (MS) degrees, and a certificate (CERT) in environmental assessment.

At a time when the United States federal government appears indifferent to, or even hostile towards, responsible and forward-looking environmental stewardship, the Department of Environmental Science recommits itself to advancing informed, knowledge-based approaches to confronting local and global environmental concerns.

There has never been a time when environmental science has been of greater importance to developing a sustainable future.


Selected publications

Sergio Morales (Environmental Science) and Jennah McDonald (Biology), were part of the SEA Semester voyage that discovered good news regarding coral health in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) last month. Their discovery was featured in yesterday's New York Times. Accompanied by 21 other undergraduates, SEA Semester faculty, and researchers from the New England Aquarium and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Sergio and Jennah gathered data on the health of the islands' coral reef ecosystem in order to recommend policy implementations to the PIPA management office in Kiribati—all while sailing as active crewmembers aboard a tall ship research vessel.

Leonardo da Costa Sousa, Mingjie Jin, Shishir Chundawat, Vijay Bokade, Xiaoyu Tang, Ali Azarpira, Fachuang Lu, Utku Avci, James Humpula, Nirmal Uppugundla, Christa Gunawan, Sivakumar Pattathil, Albert Cheh, Ninad Kothari, Rajeev Kumar, John Ralph, Michael G. Hahn, Charles E. Wyman, Seema Singh, Blake A. Simmons, Bruce E. Dale and Venkatesh Balan, (2016) Next-generation ammonia pretreatment enhances biofuel production from biomass via simultaneous cellulose decrystallization and lignin extraction. Energy & Environmental Science 9, 1215-1223

Roger Cooke, Alexander Golub, Bruce A. Wielicki, David F. Young, Martin G. Mlynczak & Rosemary R. Baize. 2016. Using the social cost of carbon to value earth observing systems. Climate Policy DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2015.1110109

Gardner, J.R., T.R. Fisher, T.E. Jordan and K.L. Knee. 2016. Balancing watershed nitrogen budgets: accounting for biogenic gases in streams. Biogeochemistry, in press. This article was profiled in Shorelines, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's blog.

Kim K (2016) Diseases of Octocorals. Pp 410-415, in Diseases of Corals. C Woodley et al. (eds) Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken NJ

Kim K & K Rypien (2016) Aspergillosis of Caribbean Sea Fan Corals, Gorgonia spp. Pp 236-241, in Diseases of Corals. C Woodley et al. (eds) Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken NJ

MacAvoy SE, Katie Plank, Sydney Mucha and Glenn Williamson. 2016. Effectiveness of foam-based green surfaces in reducing nitrogen and suspended solids in an urban installation. Ecological Engineering 91: 257-264

Pondell, C.R, A.J. Beck, E.A. Canuel, and S.A. Kuehl. (2015) Using plutonium isotopes to date sediment horizons in coarse sediments from Englebright Lake, California (USA). Aquatic Geochemistry 22(2): 97-115. DOI:10.1007/s10498-015-9279-6.

Wang J, Kim K, Ofiara D, Zhao Y, Bera A, Lohmann R & MC Baker (2016) Chapter 25: Marine Debris. Pp. 698-731 in Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea

Connor NC (G), Sarraino S (G), Frantz D (U), Bushaw-Newton K, MacAvoy SE. 2014. "Geochemical characteristics of an urban river: influences of an anthropogenic landscape." Applied Geochemistry 47:209-216.

Faculty awards

2015 NOAA - Fisheries Habitat Conservation Program Office, Resource Inventory, Resilience, and Historical Change of Reef: Flat Communities Within the Manell-Geus Watershed, Guam's Habitat Focus Area (Kim K Co-PI, $58,988)

"Award for Excellence in Master's Student Mentoring 2015-2016" AU Vice Provost Office (MacAvoy).

Department News

Marc Edwards standing at podium

Environment ·

Activist Marc Edwards Illuminates Flint Water Crisis

Read More

CAS students Devin Kuhn and Jacob Atkins aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans.

Achievements ·

CAS Students Sail the Pacific for Science

Read More

Coral reefs

Research ·

Seeing Inside Coral

Read More

A man gives Matt Mullin an award and shakes his hand.

Achievements ·

CAS Student Takes Third Place in STEM Entrepreneurship Competition

Read More

Alice Hill, Kiho Kim, Francesco Femia, and Paul Wapner

On Campus ·

The Age of Consequences: Eye-Opening Documentary Screened at AU

Read More


Michael Alonzo (environmental science) received $89,126 from the University of Maryland, College Park National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) for his project "Expanding Access to Data-Intensive Remote Sensing Algorithms through Collaboration with the Socio-environmental Research Community."

Watch: AU's Department of Environmental Science


Learn more about the Department of Environmental Science at American University's College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty and students discuss what sets this program apart from others.