Environmental Science

    • Ninety-seven percent of Gannon’s environmental science graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate programs.
    • Environmental science students are involved in research projects investigating ways to understand and control pollution and improve water quality in local streams, Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie. Research includes computer modeling of watersheds and the aquatic ecology of local streams.
    • Every student conducts a senior design project that brings together the elements of assessing engineering requirements for a new or modified system and evaluating alternative solutions in terms of performance, efficiency and economic benefit.
    • Graduates of the Gannon environmental science program are working in a wide variety of jobs, ranging from government environmental protection agencies to important roles with private industry. 

    You Will Learn

    Environmental science is the study of the adverse impact of human activity on the environment. Therefore, students need to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the sciences so they can understand how human activity has altered environmental quality and human health. The department believes in hands-on application of the sciences, and the curriculum includes a yearlong research project during the senior year.

    Seniors bring together everything they have learned to plan and execute a scientific research project. The topic of the project is developed with the faculty to provide meaningful and legitimate research. Each student works with a faculty mentor on an individual or small-team basis to solve an important environmental problem, and in the process they become a scientist. The resources of the department, including all of its research equipment, are available to the student. Some projects are lab-based and some are field-based. These have included stream studies, watershed analysis, ecosystem computer modeling, air quality impacts on human health and groundwater contamination, among many others. The culmination of the project is the student’s senior thesis.

    You Will Experience

    Many students do not wait until their senior year to become involved in research. The department has ongoing research projects, and undergraduates are often invited to participate in those projects. Students are also encouraged to find a summer internship after their sophomore and junior years. Opportunities for internships are available at sites including:

    • government agencies  
    • local and regional industries  
    • nonprofit organizations  
    • privately owned environmental companies  
    • research institutions  

    You Will Achieve

    Graduates of the environmental science program at Gannon University typically find jobs in one of three different career paths. They also are well prepared to pursue graduate studies either at Gannon or at another university. Such opportunities include the following:

    • Many graduates go to work for government and nonprofit agencies. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection employs many Gannon graduates, both in northwestern Pennsylvania and around the state. Other graduates have found jobs with federal and state agencies around the country.  
    • A popular career path is to work for the many environmental consulting firms that provide services to companies, local governments and individuals who have a specialized environmental challenge.  
    • A third direction is to work for a large private manufacturing company. Many large companies have their own staff of environmental specialists who safeguard employees and the environment while working in-house.  

    You will Study

    The environmental science curriculum encompasses a wide exposure to the natural sciences, which leads students through a study of environmental quality topics. This culminates during the senior year in a yearlong thesis project organized into a two-course sequence. Environmental science majors take various core and elective courses including:

    ENV 312 & ENV 313: Environmental Hydrology and Lab 

    Environmental hydrology is the study of the hydrologic cycle and changes caused by human activity. In these courses, students focus on the study of the urbanizing effect on stream hydrology and stream restoration. The lab course includes field and lab exercises relating to stream hydrology and stream restoration.

    ENV 336 and ENV 337: Water Quality and Lab 

    This course covers the major types of water pollution of concern to the environmental professional. Topics to be covered include water quality impacted by organic and nutrient pollution in surface and groundwater, as well as the water quality consequences of heavy metal and toxic organic pollution. 

    ENV 400 and ENV 401: Environmental Toxicology and Lab 

    This course focuses on the properties, effects and detection of chemical substances in the environment and within exposed species, and how that information is used to protect human health. Topics to be covered include: dose-response relationships, toxicokinetics, biotransformation and elimination of toxicants, target organ toxicity, carcinogenesis, risk assessment and the standard-setting process.

    Liberal Studies Core

    The Liberal Studies Core Curriculum is one reflection of Gannon University's commitment to its Catholic identity. The Core's design offers students a defined, integrated, shared experience as the foundation for their undergraduate program.

    You Will Earn

    Salaries in the field vary depending on the location and type of organization. 

    • Starting salary: $41,300
    • Mid-career salary: $71,500

    All salary information is compiled from data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) and/or PayScale (payscale.com).