Department of Earth & Environment

The Department of Earth & Environment emphasizes core research in both the natural and social sciences, and includes expertise in remote sensing, surface processes, crustal dynamics, geochemistry, geophysics, marine science, terrestrial ecology, energy, environmental analyses and policy, human geography, and geographic information systems. The following degrees are offered:

These degree programs maintain strength in basic research in core disciplines as well as exploiting new and emerging cross-disciplinary fields that link complex feedbacks and processes among the physical, biological, and social sciences. The department also participates in the Graduate Certificate in Terrestrial Biogeoscience.

Curricular and research endeavors cluster in five thematic areas: (1) physical geography (physical climatology, global change biology, hydrology, physiological ecology, and plant biogeography); (2) remote sensing and geographic information systems; (3) earth sciences (climate and earth history, coastal and marine science, geochemistry, geomorphology, geophysics, solid earth and tectonics, and surface processes); (4) energy-environmental systems and policy; and (5) human geography (economic, political, and cultural geography; environmental awareness and sustainability).

Opportunities exist in the department for graduate student participation in all basic and applied research projects. Research is sponsored by such agencies as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Naval Research, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the World Bank, and the United Nations.

The department is committed to providing exceptional laboratory facilities for use in research and teaching. These include the department’s Inductively Coupled Plasma Emission Spectrometer (ICP-ES), the Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS), the X-ray Diffraction Lab, the laboratory for Coastal Ecology and Biogeochemistry, the Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry Lab (TIMS), the Experimental Permafrost Lab (EPL), the Carbon Research Laboratory, the Boston University Urban Laboratory, the Digital Image Analysis Lab (DIAL), and extensive computational resources available for a wide range of applications, from data analysis to numerical modeling. Fieldwork is supported by an array of equipment and logistical supplies that facilitate research across the globe, including research in the tropics, polar regions, alpine settings, as well as coastal, near-shore, and marine environments.

The department is strongly aligned with activities in allied research centers and programs, including the Center for Remote Sensing, the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, and the Boston University Marine Program (BUMP). The Department also works closely with the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.