Spotlight on Environmental Science

March 28, 2014 | Medgar Evers College

 

What is Environmental Science? 

Environmental science is a multidisciplinary academic field that integrates physical, biological and information sciences, (including but not limited to ecology, physics, chemistry, zoology, mineralogy, oceanology, limnology, soil science, geology, atmospheric science, geography and geodesy) to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems. Environmental science provides an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems. 

Related areas of study include environmental studies and environmental engineering. Environmental studies incorporate more of the social sciences for understanding human relationships, perceptions and policies towards the environment. Environmental engineering focuses on design and technology for improving environmental quality in every aspect. 

Environmental scientists work on subjects like the understanding of earth processes, evaluating alternative energy systems, pollution control and mitigation, natural resource management, and the effects of global climate change. Environmental issues almost always include an interaction of physical, chemical, and biological processes. 

Environmental scientists bring a systems approach to the analysis of environmental problems. Key elements of an effective environmental scientist include the ability to relate space, and time relationships as well as quantitative analysis. 

Did You Know? 

Jane Goodall is an Environmental Scientist. She is a multidisciplinary environmental scientist and is better known as a primatologist, ethnologist, and anthropologist. She is a UN Messenger of peace. She is the world number one specialist on chimpanzees and is best known for her forty-five years study of the wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park of Tanzania.  

She is the founder of the world famous Jane Goodall Institute. Goodall is the eighth exceptional person to study and receive a Ph.D. at the Cambridge University, without first having a bachelor’s degree. Based on her five years research at the Gombe reserve, she wrote her thesis, titled Behavior of the Free-Ranging Chimpanzee. 

George Washington Carver was an Environmental Scientist. Carver was an American agricultural chemist, agronomist and botanist who developed various products from peanuts, sweet potatoes and soy-beans that radically changed the agricultural economy of the United States. A son of a slave woman, George won several awards for his brilliant contributions, such as the Spingarn Medal of the NAACP. He spent most of his career teaching and conducting research at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama. 

Born into slavery in Diamond, Missouri, George Washington Carver’s master, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant. After the abolition of slavery, Moses Carver raised George and furthered his intellectual pursuits.  

Carver learned art and piano at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa in 1890, where his art teacher recommended George to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College. He became the first black student, and later the first black faculty member, at Iowa State. 

After acquiring his B.S. degree, George completed his master’s degree at the same college, conducting field research at the Iowa Experiment Station. His successful work in plant pathology and mycology gained him countrywide acclaim and fame as a prominent botanist. 

Carver was a farmer’s scientist. He taught farmers how to grow better plants, while even utilizing farm waste products. He turned corn stalks into building materials. Carver found dyes in the rich clay soil. He manufactured more than 100 products from sweet potatoes. His favorite plant was the peanut. He invented over 300 ways to use the peanut, as soap, plastic, shampoo and even shoe polish. 

Carver never patented any of his inventions, as he believed knowledge should be free. As a result, many industrialists developed commercial products from his laboratory inventions and made millions. 

Where do Environmental Scientists Work? 

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policy makers, or work with industry to reduce waste. 

Environmental scientists and specialists work in offices and laboratories. Some may spend time in the field gathering data and monitoring environmental conditions firsthand. Most environmental scientists and specialists work full time. 

As of May 2012, the median annual wage for environmental scientists and specialists was $63,570. 

Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Heightened public interest in the hazards facing the environment, as well as the increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth, is expected to spur demand for environmental scientists and specialists. 

Local and National Companies that Hire Environmental Scientists

•        Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison)

•        Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

•        Environmental Protection Agency

•        Operational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

•        Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

•        Department of Transportation (DOT)

•        Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

•        Department of Health (DOH)

•        Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)

•        Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

•        New York City Transit (NYCTA)

•        New York City Fire Department (NYCFD)

•        Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (BCUE)

•        Magnolia Tree Earth Center (MTEC)

•        Brooklyn Botanical Garden (BBG)

•        The New York Botanical Gardens

•        Environmental Law

•        Natural Resource Conservation

•        Environmental Policy, Water Resources

•        Chemistry, Biology & Environmental Engineering

•        Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences

  

Check out MEC’s Environmental Degree Program. You just might find your calling!