Just the Bear Facts

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Month: February 2015 (page 2 of 2)

Baylor Offers new PHD in Environmental Science

238783By Natalie Saleh

Baylor professors and graduate students make up some of the nation’s leading researchers in environmental science, discovering solutions to global challenges and public health. Because graduate students have been so successful, a new PhD program in Environmental Science will be available in spring 2015.

“Though we are presently approaching the top tier of environmental programs in the USA, we further strive to be the leading global environmental science program at a Christian university,” says Dr. Bryan Brooks, professor of Environmental Science and Biomedical Studies and director of the Environmental Health Science Program.

Currently, environmental science faculty and staff are working on projects in Texas, all over the United States, and on five continents. Elias Oziolor, for example, is conducting ground-breaking research on toxicology.

“I am working with Cole Matson in the Environmental Science department, and we look at evolutionary toxicology, which is just a small subset of environmental sciences studying the effect of toxicant in different places. For us, it’s the Houston Ship Channel, and how toxicants affect the populations of organisms of fish in the channel,” says Elias.

In addition to this project, environmental science faculty and students are engaging in research on a variety of topics such as air pollution, chemical contaminants in fish and whales, and designing more sustainable industrial chemicals.

Previously students pursued environmental research through other interdisciplinary programs, like the Biomedical Studies program and The Institute of Ecological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (TIEEES). With the new PhD program, however, graduate students will have even greater resources to aid in their research by pursuing the nationally normative terminal degree in the field.

“They are trying to make a program that would not compete with Biomedical Studies or TIEEES, but would give an extra opportunity for students to go into labs in the environmental science department,” explains Elias Oziolor.

The environmental science curriculum will include courses such as statistics, toxicology, environmental chemistry, and ecological risk assessment. Beyond these core classes, the degree will be customizable, allowing students to pursue their unique research interests.

This new program, with its strong curriculum and award-winning faculty members, will strengthen the already flourishing projects in the environmental sciences.

“I think it’s a great thing for environmental science that it’s starting up, and it’s a promising program that has a very strong curriculum. And I’m looking forward to seeing how the students like it,” says Elias.

To learn more about the environmental science research at Baylor, visit the department’s website. If you have further questions regarding the PhD in Environmental Science, contact the graduate program director, Dr. Sascha Usenko.


Baylor YouVisit

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a virtual tour would surely be worth a novel or two.  For years, the graduate school has written to prospective students telling them about the great environment and opportunities at Baylor.  Sometimes, however, words simply cannot do it justice.  It’s easy to talk about the magnitude of the Baylor Science Building or the beauty of Armstrong Browning Library, but unless you’ve been to campus, it is difficult to really get a feel for life at Baylor.  That’s why the Baylor graduate school recently teamed up with YouVisit to give people a chance to see campus the way it was meant to be seen: through the eyes of a student.

YouVisit is a company that helps universities design and create virtual tours for prospective students.  Their work allows viewers to walk through a university’s campus without ever having to leave the comfort of home.  Baylor’s tour is equipped with clickable arrows that take you to various destinations around campus along with a virtual tour guide who provides information about the different stops.  YouVisit also features 360 degree pictures that are great for looking inside buildings or getting your sense of direction on campus.

For the Baylor Graduate School’s tour, we wanted the experience to be as authentic as possible.   Rather than hiring a YouVisit actor to put on a Baylor shirt and read lines, we did the majority of the production in-house.  The tour was given by Baylor theatre graduate student, Kayson Murphy, filmed by Baylor Film and Digital Media student, Pedro Rosas, and written by…..us!  So, if you’d like to learn more about Baylor, or you’re simply interested in seeing what our campus looks like, click this link to check out the tour.  It’s almost as good as actually going to school here!

Environmental Science Student Wins Prestigious Science Award

Each year, the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) select one exceptional graduate student for the Future Leaders in Science Award. This year, that honor went to Baylor University’s very own Zack Valdez—a Ph.D. Student in the Ecological, Earth and Environmental Science Department. BLOG PICThe award recognizes students that have a vision for impacting policy and science.  Zack first learned of the award opportunity at a conference in Long Beach, CA, where he won an elevator speech contest. An advocate for the ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Future Leaders in Science Award was impressed by Zack’s speech and encouraged him to apply.  Good thing he followed his advice! As this year’s winner, Zack will enjoy an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC to participate in the 2015 Congressional Visits Day in March where he will receive advocacy training and meet with Congressional representatives.

According to Zack, it was the unique interdisciplinary approach of the EEES program that initially attracted him to Baylor.  Eventually, he hopes to pursue a career in alternative energy, but has decided to hone his skills in Environmental Science, Geology, Chemistry and various other disciplines first.  The majority of Zack’s research time has been spent working on carbon cycling, which has to do with ethanol fuel made from corn.  He is also an avid traveler and has been around the world more times than Carmen San Diego doing research and attending different Soil Science conferences in order to stay up-to-date with current developments in his field. When he’s not traveling the world or conducting research, Zack enjoys playing club soccer and enjoying the outdoors.

He looks forward to his trip to DC and is most excited to meet with congressional leaders to see how scientific research is implemented by policy.  While he loves to research within his discipline, Zack also feels his ability to speak and interact with people will allow him to be an advocate for progressive use of alternative energy and make a positive impact on our planet.

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