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, 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 and exploit 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 Advanced Graduate Certificate in Biogeoscience, the MA in Global Policy, and the MA in Global Development Policy with the Pardee School of Global Studies, and BU Urban, the Graduate Program in Urban Biogeosciences & Environmental Health.

Curricular and research endeavors cluster in eight thematic areas: (1) climate dynamics and hydrology; (2) carbon and nutrient cycling; (3) surface processes and crustal evolution; (4) paleoclimate and Earth history; (5) land cover and land use change; (6) sustainable food, water, and energy; (7) environmental analysis and policy; (8) coastal, marine, and ecosystem response to global change.

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, US Department of Energy, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture, US Geological Survey, US Department of Health and Human Services, US Department of Commerce, US Department of Transportation, Office of Naval Research, US 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 & Biogeochemistry, the Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry Lab (TIMS), the Scanning Electron Microscopy Lab (SEM), the Experimental Permafrost Lab (EPL), the Carbon Research Laboratory, the Boston University Urban Laboratory, 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, and alpine settings, as well as coastal, near-shore, and marine environments.

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