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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
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Course Descriptions

Department of Environmental Sciences

Clark Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400123
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4123
(434) 924-7761 Fax: (434) 982-2137

This basic-research-oriented department offers the graduate student a multidisciplinary education in the environmental sciences with a program that requires a fundamental background in the physical and biological sciences and mathematics. Graduate students are expected to obtain an early proficiency in the four core graduate areas offered by the department and to become accomplished in field and laboratory methods, data analysis, and mathematical modeling. These subjects are stressed in many departmental courses and offer a common ground for interdisciplinary communication.

Each graduate student is expected to specialize in at least one of the core areas in which the department excels: ecology, atmospheric sciences, hydrology, and geosciences. The department also offers training in environmental chemistry.

Degree Requirements

In addition to fulfilling the general University requirements for graduate degrees, all graduate students must take a 500-level course in each of the core areas of the department: atmospheric sciences, ecology, geosciences, and hydrology. A candidate for an advanced degree must present and publicly defend to her or his committee a thesis or dissertation proposal. In addition, Doctor of Philosophy candidates must pass a comprehensive examination within four semesters of residency and also take one advanced course in a core area outside their research specialty.

The specific course requirements for graduation are established by the student’s individual committee, depending on research requirements. The department has no uniform foreign language requirement; however, a student may be required by his or her thesis or dissertation committee to demonstrate competence in a foreign language.

A master’s of arts degree candidate must complete a minimum of 24 credits of course work at the graduate level, exclusive of 800-level and 900-level research courses. The student’s M.A. program of study is developed in consultation with the candidate’s major professor and approved by the Department’s Graduate Academic Review Committee. Training in ecology, hydrology, atmospheric science, and geosciences is expected of the degree candidate.

Research Programs Active research programs emphasizing basic science exist within each of the core areas of the department. In addition, a number of current research efforts aim to integrate many or all of the core disciplines in order to address complex environmental questions from a comprehensive viewpoint. Details on current research projects and interests of individual faculty are available from the department on request.

Facilities The Department of Environmental Sciences is located in Clark Hall, along with the Science and Engineering Library, on the central Grounds of the University. Additional laboratory space is located in Halsey Hall (adjacent). Departmental facilities include field vehicles, boats, aerial photographic interpretation equipment, machine and electronics shops, environmental chambers, analytical chemistry laboratories, mass-spectrometer facility, greenhouse and insectary facilities, computers, workstations, a complete weather communications package that includes Unidata/PC-McIdes DIFAX, Domestic Data Plus, International Data, and NOAA Weather Wire. The department has a geographic information system (GIS) laboratory equipped with several Sun workstations running ERDAS and ARCINFO software. Appropriate color output devices are available there. A computational hydrology laboratory includes an IBM RS/6000, Sun SPARC station, several X-terminals, and color and laser printers. Departmental field facilities include several instrumented watersheds in and adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park, in the coastal plain, and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The department’s research facility, Pace-Steger Estate, includes hydrological and meteorological monitoring equipment.

The department also operates the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research (VCR/LTER) site under funding provided by the National Science Foundation. This site is one of 18 which provide an international focus on ecosystem properties. The VCR/LTER’s primary focus is in spatial and temporal variation in a barrier island-lagoon complex that leads to changes in ecosystem states.

Blandy Farm The Blandy Experimental Farm provides residential, greenhouse, laboratory, and field facilities for student and faculty research. It is particularly well-suited for manipulative field experiments in agricultural, old field, and forest environments.

Moore Lectures The department presents a University-wide series of lectures under the sponsorship of Mr. Fred H. Moore, an alumnus of the University. These are delivered annually by nationally known authorities on broad areas of environmental concern to society.

Course Descriptions


Environmental Sciences

EVSC 503 - (4) (IR)
Applied Statistics for Environmental Scientists
Prerequisite: Introductory course in probability or statistics; corequisite: EVSC 503L.
Provides a firm knowledge of experimental design, hypothesis testing, and using statistical methods of data analysis.

EVSC 503L - (0) (IR)
Applied Statistics Laboratory
Corequisite: EVSC 503.
Use of computer laboratories in the analysis of quantitative data.

EVSC 511 - (4) (Y)
Systems Analysis in Environmental Sciences
Prerequisite: Introductory statistics or integral calculus, Fortran programming, and instructor permission.
Introduces the holistic concepts of modern ecology and environmental sciences through various approaches to systems analysis. Produces simulation models for analog and digital computers and explores their properties.

EVSC 710 - (3) (IR)
Advanced Quantitative Methods
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Surveys statistical and mathematical models used in environmental sciences. Emphasizes assumptions used, experimental design, and analysis of empirical data.

EVSC 760 - (3) (Y)
Prerequisite: EVSC 350 or instructor permission.
Studies principles governing atmospheric processes occurring at small temporal and spatial scales near the Earth’s surface, including energy, mass and momentum transfer. Includes features of the atmospheric environment affecting plants and feedback mechanisms between plants and their local microclimates, trace gas exchange between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere, energy budgets, evapotranspiration, and motions near the surface.

EVSC 778 - (4) (E)
Quantitative Contaminant Hydrology
Prerequisite: A 500-level course in geology or hydrology.
Provides an integrated interdisciplinary approach to quantitative aspects of the physics, chemistry, and biology of groundwater systems. Focuses on problems involving contamination of groundwaters. Emphasizes numerical solutions of equations with digital computers. Laboratory exercises are heavily oriented toward computer modeling, but also involve laboratory and field work.

EVSC 782 - (4) (IR)
Environmental Chemistry
Prerequisite: One year of college chemistry with laboratory, EVSC 386 or its equivalent.
Studies the natural and anthropogenic mechanisms that control the chemistry of the environment through biogeochemical cycling. Introduces more specialized topics, e.g., atmospheric chemistry and aqueous geochemistry.

EVSC 786 - (3) (O)
Isotope Geochemistry
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Investigates natural phenomena by means of stable and unstable isotopes and changes in their abundance, including isotope fractionation. Includes age dating, paleotemperature determination, and isotope tracers in natural systems.

EVSC 790, 791 - (1) (S)
Departmental Seminar
Studies current problems in environmental research management or public policy as presented by visiting speakers, faculty, or advanced graduate students.

EVSC 795, 796 - (3) (S)
Special Topics in Environmental Sciences
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Interdisciplinary focus on current problems and research in integrated areas.

EVSC 890, 891 - (3) (S)
Seminar in Environmental Sciences
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A central interdisciplinary research topic used as the focus of journal papers to be summarized and discussed by the participants. Proposals for original research within the selected area are also explored.

EVSC 895, 896 - (3) (S)
Advanced Topics in Environmental Sciences
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Interdisciplinary treatments of environmental systems wherein the interrelationships of hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere are explored and analyzed.

EVSC 897 - (3, 6, 9, 12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
For master’s research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

EVSC 898 - (3, 6, 9, 12) (S)
Non-Topical Research
For master’s thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

EVSC 993, 994 - (1-9) (S)
Research Problems
Individual or group research on interdisciplinary problems in environmental sciences.

EVSC 997 - (3, 6, 9, 12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

EVSC 999 - (3, 6, 9, 12) (S)
Non-Topical Research
For doctoral research, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.

Atmospheric Sciences

EVAT 541 - (4) (Y)
Atmospheric Dynamics
Prerequisite: Two semesters of integral calculus and two semesters of calculus-based college physics.
Introduces theoretical meteorology encompassing dry and moist air thermodynamics, the mechanics of atmospheric motion, and the dynamics of atmospheric weather systems.

EVAT 542 - (3) (Y)
Prerequisite: One semester course in atmospheric sciences or instructor permission.
Principles of radiation transfer, soil heat flux, atmospheric heat transfer, atmospheric moisture, and evapotranspiration, motions near the Earth’s surface, and surface energy balances are covered to provide a basis for describing the microclimate of various surfaces.

EVAT 546 - (4) (Y)
Synoptic Meteorology
Prerequisite: EVAT 541 or instructor permission.
Introduces weather analysis and forecasting, with attention to temperature and precipitation forecasting, and the diagnosis and prediction of atmospheric weather systems.

EVAT 550 - (3) (O)
Environmental Climatology
Corequisites: One semester course in atmospheric sciences or instructor permission.
An advanced-level survey of the theoretical and experimental research areas in climatology, emphasizing environmental problems associated with the atmosphere. Fundamental principles used in these studies are introduced and discussed, along with procedures used to present and analyze atmospheric information.

EVAT 554 - (3) (O)
Ocean-Atmosphere Dynamics
Prerequisite: EVSC 350 or equivalent, or one semester of calculus-based physics, or instructor permission.
Studies the principles underlying interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean, beginning with the equations of motion governing the atmosphere and generalizations necessary for application to ocean dynamics. Topics include influence of atmospheric thermal and wind forcing on the ocean, oceanic feedback on the atmosphere, and intrinsically coupled ocean-atmosphere processes. Examines this behavior and climate system on seasonal, interannual, and longer timescales (e.g., El Nino/Southern Oscillation phenomenon).

EVAT 793 - (1-6) (S)
Independent Study: Atmospheric Sciences
Individual or group study in developing or special areas of atmospheric sciences and interrelated areas.

EVAT 795, 796 - (3) (S)
Special Topics in Atmospheric Sciences
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Intensive presentation of selected interdisciplinary areas that stress atmospheric systems rarely covered in the established curricula.

EVAT 895, 896 - (3) (S)
Advanced Topics in Atmospheric Sciences
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Detailed, integrative treatments of those atmospheric systems in which the nature and dynamics of the atmosphere are central.


EVEC 521 - (4) (Y)
Aquatic Ecology
Prerequisite: One semester of ecology, one semester of hydrology, one year of college chemistry, and integral calculus, or instructor permission.
Reviews the physics and chemistry of fresh-water and marine environments; functional classification of organisms in aquatic communities; and the energy and nutrient dynamics of aquatic communities. Three lecture hours, three laboratory hours.

EVEC 522 - (4) (O)
Terrestrial Ecology
Prerequisite: One semester of ecology or instructor permission.
Topics include the patterns and processes in terrestrial ecosystems: macro- and micro-meteorological factors; producer, consumer, and decomposer processes; hydrologic and biogeochemical pathways; and changes through space and time.

EVEC 523 - (3) (Y)
Microbial Ecology
Prerequisite: One semester of ecology, one semester of hydrology, or instructor permission.
Explores relationships of microorganisms to similar organisms, dissimilar (macro) organisms, and the physical-chemical environment to demonstrate basic ecological theory and indicate the importance of microbes in maintaining our world. Includes the organisms, microbial habitats, community formation and structure, interspecific relationships, nutrient cycling, and anthropocentric ecology.

EVEC 523L - (1) (Y)
Microbial Ecology Laboratory
Prerequisite: Instructor permission; corequisite: EVEC 523.
Explores microbial ecological research techniques, using both classic and state-of-the-art methods to determine microbial biomass in nature. Includes various methods and exercises involving field sampling and analysis.

EVEC 525 - (3) (Y)
Ecological Issues in Global Change
Prerequisite: EVSC 320 or equivalent, one year of college calculus, or instructor permission.
Introduces the development and application of theoretical constructs and mathematical models for projecting the dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems to large-scale changes in the environment.

EVEC 525L - (1) (Y)
Ecological Issues in Global Change Laboratory
Corequisite: EVEC 525.
A computer-based laboratory in the application of ecological models to problems in evaluating the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to large-scale environmental change.

EVEC 722 - (3) (E)
Estuarine Ecology
Prerequisite: EVEC 521, EVGE 584, introductory chemistry, and instructor permission.
Includes hydrology, sediments, and biogeochemical cycles of the estuarine environment; organisms and their physiological adaptations, primary production, tropic relationships, and human-induced alterations.

EVEC 793 - (1-6) (S)
Independent Study: Ecology
Individual or group study in developing or special areas of ecology and interrelated areas.

EVEC 795, 796 - (3) (S)
Special Topics in Ecology
Prerequisite: One semester of ecology and instructor permission.
Current problems and research in various areas of ecology and related fields.

EVEC 895, 896 - (3) (S)
Advanced Topics in Ecology
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Integrative study of ecosystems emphasizing the dynamics of components and processes as fundamental to comprehension and analysis.


EVGE 504 - (3) (O)
Prerequisite: College chemistry and calculus, an introductory geology course, and a course in mineralogy.
Studies the principles which govern the distribution and abundance of the elements in the earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere.

EVGE 507 - (4) (Y)
Aqueous Geochemistry
Prerequisite: one year of college chemistry and calculus, and one mineralogy or petrology course.
Studies the principals of thermodynamics as applied to mineral-water systems. Treatment includes mineral stability, phase diagrams, solution thermodynamics, electrolyte theory, aqueous complex and hydrolysis equilibria, and electrochemical equilibria.

EVGE 578 - (3) (Y)
Groundwater Hydrology
Prerequisite: EVSC 280, 340 or equivalents, two semesters calculus, CHEM 141, 142 or equivalent.
Introduces physical and chemical groundwater hydrology. Topics include the mechanics of groundwater flow, emphasizing geological factors influencing groundwater occurrence and movement; the influence of natural geological heterogeneity on groundwater flow patterns; and mass and heat transport in groundwater flow systems. The accompanying laboratory examines methods of hydrogeological data acquisition and analysis.

EVGE 582 - (4) (Y)
Prerequisite: EVSC 280 or EVSC 340.
Studies the processes that shape the land surface and their relationship to human activity.

EVGE 584 - (3) (Y)
Sediment Processes and Environments
Prerequisite: One year of calculus; corequisite: EVGE 584L.
Introduces important sediment properties and processes, including size distributions, initial motion, bed load and suspended load transport, bed forms, erosion and deposition, flocculation, sedimentary structures, and animal sediment interactions. Several depositional settings are investigated, including coastal, wetland, and fluvial environments.

EVGE 584L - (1) (Y)
Sediment Processes Laboratory
Corequisite: EVGE 584.
Laboratory and field investigations of sediment properties and phenomena.

EVGE 780 - (4) (IR)
Engineering Geology and Soil Physics
Prerequisite: EVSC 280 and 340.
Topics include the physics and mechanics of soils, measurement and mapping of soil properties, and implications for human activities and land use.

EVGE 793 - (1-6) (S)
Independent Study-Geosciences
Individual or group study in developing or special areas of geosciences and interrelated areas, emphasizing earth-surface processes.

EVGE 795, 796 - (3) (S)
Special Topics in Geosciences
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Selected interdisciplinary areas which stress current problems and research in earth-surface processes and their application to the environments impacted by human activity.

EVGE 895, 896 - (3) (S)
Advanced Topics in Environmental Geology
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Interdisciplinary study of the physical processes and responses which modify environmental systems. Exhaustive treatments of the nature and analysis of earth materials as environmental substrates and their responses to stress are represented, as are other techniques in geosciences focusing on earth-surface properties.


EVHY 544 - (3) (Y)
Catchment Hydrology: Process and Theory
Prerequisite: EVSC 340 or equivalent.
Introduces current theories of the hydrological response of catchments. Using an integrative approach, the course illuminates the derivation of theory in light of the time and location of the process studies on which they were based.

EVHY 545 - (4) (Y)
Hydrological Transport Processes
Prerequisite: Introductory geology and hydrology.
Studies the physical principles governing the transport of dissolved substances, and of sediment and particulate matter in the terrestrial portion of the hydrological cycle.

EVHY 547 - (4) (Y)
Environmental Fluid Mechanics
Prerequisite: Integral calculus and calculus-based physics, or instructor permission.
Studies the mechanics of fluids and fluid-related processes occurring at the Earth’s surface, including laminar, inviscid, and turbulent flows, drag, boundary layers, diffusion and dispersion of mass, flow through porous media, and effects of the Earth’s rotation. Emphasizes topics related to the environmental sciences.

EVHY 744 - (3) (IR)
Dynamic Hydrology
Prerequisite: Introductory hydrology and differential equations, or instructor permission.
Studies the interrelationships of the various phases in the water cycle; principles governing that cycle; and the influence of human activity on natural circulation of water at or near the Earth’s surface.

EVHY 747 - (3) (O)
Numerical Methods in Hydrology
Prerequisite: EVHY 500-level course.
Application of numerical methods to the solution of hydrological problems. The Matlab computational and plotting software is used for all examples and assignments, including finite difference and finite element solutions to equations describing the flow of water and transport of contaminants in the terrestrial environment. Prior knowledge of Matlab is not required.

EVHY 793 - (1-6) (S)
Independent Study: Hydrology and Water Resources
Individual or group study in developing or special areas of hydrology and water resource analysis and interrelated areas.

EVHY 795, 796 - (3) (S)
Special Topics in Hydrology and Water Resources
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Studies particular and specific problems in hydrology and water resources not covered in regular course work.

EVHY 895, 896 - (3) (S)
Advanced Topics in Hydrology and Water Resources
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Specialized research into specific hydrologic or water management problems. Emphasizes an integrative analysis of the physical, social, and economic nature of these problems.

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