University of Hawai'i
(808) 956-8856 Telephone
For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2001
Fred Mackenzie, 808 956-6344, firstname.lastname@example.org
Visuals: Call Fred Mackenzie to arrange photo sessions with students
in labs or field settings
|UH's global environmental science major headed for permanent status|
Barely three years into a four-year provisional period, the University of Hawai'i at Manoa's new undergraduate degree in environmental science is proving to be popular with students, faculty and donors. The School of Ocean Science and Technology (SOEST) program, which admitted its first students in fall 1998, leads to a bachelor of science in global environmental science and prepares students for graduate studies or careers in environmental sciences.
Enrollment has doubled in two years, notes program coordinator Fred Mackenzie, a professor of oceanography at UH Manoa. "This program has really struck a chord for students who are looking for an undergraduate program in scientific and public policy issues related to the oceans and earth," he says. "It responds to student demand for training that allows them to apply scientific methodology to practical problems and issues dealing with the environment."
Global environmental science majors have three optional tracks. The marine science track draws heavily on the chemical, physical, geological and biological expertise of UHM oceanography faculty and focuses on environmental problems related to the ocean. The policy/economics track enables students to concentrate on environmental economics, policy and law as background for the workplace. The climate track examines the interaction between climate and environment, human impacts on climate and causes of climatic change. Students can also tailor their curriculum to meet their particular needs or goals. All students work with a faculty mentor to complete a field-, laboratory- or theoretically based research project in their senior year. The goal is to produce a paper eligible for publication in a research journal, says Mackenzie. One student's work has already been published. Thesis work by another student resulted in a $265,000 City and County Department of Public Works grant for adviser and associate geochemist Eric DeCarlo to study the feasibility of using storm drain filters to reduce non-point pollution in Hawai'i waters. Other student projects include a study of PCBs and nutrient flows in the He'eia Ahupua'a and seasonal changes in water chemistry in O'ahu's Ordy Pond.
"Graduates of this program are marketable and flexible," comments Edward Laws, chair of the Department of Oceanography. Opportunities for GES graduates versed in scientific methodology and social contexts include government labs, environmental groups and industry. "Moreover, this program complies with National Science Foundation goals to get researchers more involved in undergraduate teaching, and it addresses the recently publicized need to encourage more students to
In addition, the program follows the trend in ocean and earth sciences of increasingly applying an interdisciplinary approach to solving research questions and environmental problems, observes SOEST Dean Barry Raleigh. The premise and the program's success are convincing-federal NOAA Sea Grant funds have been provided for student scholarships and fellowships, and at least one peer institution is planning to add a similar program.
Manoa officials hope to take the program to the Board of Regents this spring to request permanent status for the degree. They don't have to convince the students who are participating in the program as to its value. Some of the comments:
Kamalana Kobayashi, who switched to GES after discovering engineering wasn't for him, calls the program "a well rounded, quantitative, scientific degree with many options" that prepares students for many scientific fields. Preserving Hawai'i's environment requires understanding of ecosystem processes, he says.
Michael Dichner hopes to work at a firm that conducts environmentally related remote sensing, mathematical modeling or laboratory and field research. He commends the rigorous math and chemistry training that "outlines the 'language' of all earth sciences." He adds: "The faculty and advisers are all very knowledgeable and helpful."
Renee L Thompson finds that "my classes are challenging, relevant and current. I am thinking of going on to obtain my secondary education teaching certificate and teaching more young people about earth system science. I am also very interested in ocean/coastal policy." She works for the UH Environmental Center reviewing draft environmental assessments and impact statements.
Joji Uchikawa was a zoology major who changed his major when he became interested in the ocean as a whole. "What I really like about this program is the close relationship between students and professors." The personal attention "is especially valuable for international students like me. Also, the program allows student to have wide variety of electives-biology, geology, geography, meteorology, soil chemistry, oceanography, and lots more. This wide variety of classes simply allows us to go into specific tracks, or to look at different field of study and widen our perspective. I believe that GES is the only undergraduate major where you can learn about this planet earth as one whole system without boundaries of subjects." Uchikawa's work to determine the limiting nutrient in Ewa's Ordy Pond on O'ahu relates to faculty research on how the sediment record relates to climate and human activity. An avid surfer, he hopes to put his knowledge of environmental science to work in coastal water quality or coastal management work.
Ali Warren (AwAliCat@aol.com) returned to school last semester after a seven-year break and chanced upon an oceanography course taught by Fred Mackenzie and Associate Geophysicist Jane Tribble. "Not only was this the perfect course to begin studying environmental sciences, but the enthusiasm and caring from both instructors were enough to lure me to the GES information session" and into the program. "I have never before, in my studies, felt that I was committing myself to a discipline where I would be working and living from the heart. The students make up a small, close knit and caring group, and the faculty bring a vast background of the most current knowledge to their classes and students. The requirements of the program are extremely rigorous in order to prepare us for any career we choose. I have yet to narrow the focus of my major, but I know that when I do, I'll be well-prepared and well-supported for anything I choose."
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
Bachelor of Science Program, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, UH Manoa
Coordinator: Fred Mackenzie, 808 956-6344, email@example.com
Enrollment stands at nearly 50 students; growth has been marked and steady. A little more than a third of students come from out of state; the rest already attended Manoa or transferred from another UH campus.
Faculty includes more than 45 SOEST faculty members and about 10 from other fields, including economics, law, geography, philosophy, environmental health and urban planning. Most faculty members welcome GES students into classes they already offer, but some also teach foundational courses and volunteer to serve as mentors and curriculum advisers. A few have even drawn on their GES relationships to develop new courses. For example, Professor of Philosophy Mary Tiles (956-8250, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Professor of Oceanography Peter Muller (956-8081, email@example.com) team teach a course "Modeling Natural Systems."
Facilities for GES students include a Marine Science Building workroom with a library and GIS-equipped computer work stations where students can meet and study. For their thesis projects, students use a variety of UHM research facilities including the Edwin W. Pauley Marine Laboratory on Coconut Island.
Cost of the program is supported entirely by grants and private funds. Major financial support comes from the Edwin W. Pauley Foundation; additional scholarship support is provided by the NOAA Sea Grant program, Chevron and the Bernice C. Loui Foundation.
Success stories include the first two graduates of the program, who earned their BS in global environmental science in May 2000. Leon Geschwind, whose thesis work involved the non-point source pollution from street runoff, is pursuing a UH graduate degree. Rebecca Lane, whose paper on a marine diatom was published in the prestigious journal Science, is working for an environmental firm on the mainland. Five more students are expect to graduate in 2001. They are:
o Michael Dichner (firstname.lastname@example.org), Los Angeles, one of the first student to enter the program, worked on a project dealing with nutrient discharges to costal waters of O'ahu and is pursuing an internship. He works with Associate Geochemist Jane Tribble, of oceanography (956-6827, email@example.com).
o Kamalana Kobayashi (firstname.lastname@example.org), Honolulu, plans to pursue graduate studies in the UH Ma noa Department of Geology and Geophysics. His thesis, which deals with nutrient biogeochemistry and PCBs in the He'eia Ahupua'a, is supervised by Professor Fred Mackenzie, Department of Oceanography.
o Jamie Tanimoto (email@example.com), Hilo, a 4.0 student, is studying stable isotope techniques with Professor Brian Popp, Department of Geology and Geophysics (956-6206, firstname.lastname@example.org).
o Renee Thompson (email@example.com, 956-3976), Honolulu, is writing a report that will recommend changes to Hawai'i's Coastal Zone Management plan with Professor Chip Fletcher, Department of Geology and Geophysics (956-2582, firstname.lastname@example.org).
o Joji Uchikawa (email@example.com), Shizuoka, Japan, is studying the chemistry, biology and sediments of O'ahu's Ordy Pond. He is also supervised by Jane Tribble.
Developments in the works include an immersion semester in which
students are shuttled to Coconut Island for all course work, activities
to involve high school students in GES programs and a lower-division 16-week
SCUBA diving course to prepare students for the university's rigorous upper
division course leading to a certificate in scientific diving.