Environmental Science

Coe's environmental science program is designed to prepare students for successful careers in the field by giving students significant depth in both chemistry and biology. The challenges of developing bioremediation techniques for hazardous waste sites, of understanding the biogeochemistry of nutrient-enriched streams, or of forecasting the effects of land-use changes on natural systems demand a deep knowledge of the sciences. Students who undertake the environmental science program will have opportunities to apply the knowledge they acquire in the classroom and laboratory to the type of complex challenges they will face after they leave Coe. Opportunities for internships with local non-profits and governmental agencies are numerous due to the faculty members' long-term relationships with these groups. Student-faculty research at Coe includes the opportunity to use state-of-the-art equipment in investigations of issues such as the role of microbes in uranium remediation, the utility of wetland mitigation, effects of land use on water quality, and ecological succession using global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS).

Program Highlights

  • Water Lab

    Coe students have numerous research opportunities in Environmental Science. Sakinah Haque ('09) records field measurements near a local stream.

    Coursework that engages students in field study:
    • starting the very first year with GPS-mapped field studies
    • including detailed analysis of chemicals in the environment in Analytical Chem Lab
    • analysis of the benefits of urban forests in General Botany Lab
    • analysis of trends from the Coe Water Quality Network in Linn County, Faulkes Heritage Woods, and urban deer impacts in Spatial Ecology
    • microbial diversity and bioremediation potential of native soils in Environmental Micro
  • Research-rich laboratories are built into every class.
  • Capstone course where students form an environmental consulting group. They write proposals, design projects, and carry out independent research that answers real-world questions.
  • State of the art equipment available for student use includes several global positioning systems (GPS), a geographic information system (GIS) laboratory built on ArcMAP, ion chromatography (IC), gas chromatography- mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and an anaerobic glove box for microbial studies.
  • Program faculty have long-term connections with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the University Hygienic Laboratory, Nature Conservancy, Indian Creek Nature Center, Iowa Geological Survey Bureau, Trees Forever, and the University of Iowa's Environmental Engineering program. As a result, there are many opportunities for internships in which students may explore a variety of career options.
  • Funding from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the city of Cedar Rapids Water Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, and from Coe support summer research fellowships for 5-10 students each year.
  • Coe's Wilderness Field Station, located in Minnesota's Boundary Waters, offers a unique opportunity to explore a pristine, unfragmented wilderness.