Merger of Geological and Environmental Sciences

In Spring of 2017, the College of Arts and Sciences merged the Environmental Science Program into the Geology Department.  The new name for the combined Geology Department and the Environmental Sciences Program is the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.  

This merger does not change the essential character of the Geology Department, which our current students and alumni know and love, nor does it change the interdisciplinary nature of the Environmental Sciences program curriculum.

The two logos have also been combined into a new logo:


We are in the process of updating our new, combined website, but details about this merger are available from Dr. William Anderson, chair of the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.  Dr. Chuanhui Gu is the program contact for existing Environmental Science students.

The academic advisory board for the Environmental Science curriculum consists of the following faculty members:

Chuanhui Gu (Environmental Science Coordinator) is a geochemist and environmental hydrologist who focuses research on the hydrological control on inorganic nitrogen loading to coastal streams.

Carol Babyak is an environmental chemist who studies water quality, metal speciation using electrochemical methods, and environmental endocrine disruptors using solid phase extraction and high performance liquid chromatography.

Seth Cohen has a background in Chemical Engineering (BS) and PhD in Food Science and Technology.  He has spent many years in commercial wine production and working in the food industry.  His research interests are focused on grape and wine chemistry as well as fermentation science as it relates to food and beverage production and bioprocessing of agricultural and waste products.

Jeff Colby is a physical geographer with interests in the application of GIS and remote sensing science and technology to watershed, flood, and environmental modeling, and multi-spectral satellite imagery analysis in mountain environments.

Robert Creed is and aquatic ecologist who is interested in the processes that structure aquatic communities (biotic interactions, disturbance) and evaluating how species can affect ecosystem functions.

Saskia van de Gavel is a physical geographer.  Her interests focus on forest disturbance ecology of the Eastern deciduous forest and high elevation mountain ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains.

Richard Gray is an astrophysicist specializing in stellar spectroscopy and stellar atmospheres with specific research on the spectra of solar-type stars and the stellar activity of young solar analogues, including the implications of that activity for the environment of the early earth.

Scott Marshall is a geophysicist who works on problems in structural geology and neotectonics.

Jessica Mitchell has a background in applied remote sensing / GIS, and environmental planning. Her research currently focuses on the integration of terrestrial, airborne and satellite spatial data for 3D vegetation characterization and ecological forecasting.

Howard Neufeld is an ecophysiologist who investigates the effects of tropospheric ozone on plants native to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  

Mitch Parry is a computer scientist with postdoctoral experience in biomedical engineering and interdisciplinary interests in music, chemistry, biology, and biomedical informatics.  His work focuses on untangling the underlying sources of information in large data sets.

Carla Penders is a lecturer in Physics and Environmental Science and the student advisor for our program.  Carla studies various aspects of environmental phsyics, including stream bed grain sizing, atmospheric physics, and instrumentation/automation.

RenĂ© Salinas is a mathematical ecologist who develops spatially explicit models to investigate spatial control problems in wildlife populations.

James Sherman is a physicist who applies laser and optical techniques toward studies of the interaction of atmospheric aerosols and water vapor with solar radiation and high-energy laser beam propagation.

Bob Swarthout is an environmental chemist who studies the impacts of naturally produced organic compounds and organic pollutants derived from unconventional natural gas and oil production on air quality, water quality, and climate using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques.

Brett Taubman is an atmospheric chemist who investigates the effects of both anthropogenic (sulfate, nitrate, and soot particles from industrial and combustion processes) and natural (organic particles from biogenic emissions and wildfire) aerosols on the solar radiation budget in the Southern Appalachian region.