What is environmental studies?
Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary endeavor concerned with studying the interactions between us and our environment. This includes both natural and human-made aspects of our environment. The home of environmental studies at Shepherd University is the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences. However, many other disciplines and departments including biology, chemistry, history, mathematics, and engineering contribute to the curriculum and the intellectual richness of environmental studies.
About the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences
The Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences offers a wide variety of courses in environmental studies and the physical sciences. While some of these courses are designed to fulfill needs in our and other department’s degree programs, still others are designed to fulfill the Core Curriculum science requirement for all Shepherd University students. Use the link below to take a more detailed look at our programs of study.
There are eight laboratories dedicated to teaching and research in the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences at Shepherd University.
Geographic Information Systems Laboratory
Made possible in part by a grant from Allegheny Energy.
Located in Snyder Hall is the Geographic Information Systems Laboratory. This is a dedicated teaching and research lab, allowing faculty, staff and students to conduct research in landscape analysis, ecology, planning, GIS business application, and spatial analysis. The laboratory is equipped with computers running a host of ESRI products (including ArcGIS, Spatial Analyst, and 3D Analyst), a map plotter, numerous printers, and a Trimble Pathfinder GPS unit.
Shepherd University Observatory
Made possible by an Innovation Grant from the West Virgina Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (1st in University history).
Located on the roof of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies is the Shepherd University Observatory. The Observatory features a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (equipped with a CCD camera and spectrograph) housed in a 15-ft diameter dome, and provides opportunities for coursework use, undergraduate research, and public outreach.
Renewable Energy Demonstration Site
Made possible by an Innovation Grant from the West Virgina Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (2nd in University history).
Located outside the Robert C. Byrd Science and Technology Center is the Renewable Energy Demonstration Site. This is a dedicated renewable energy field laboratory dedicated to demonstrating a wide variety of green energy technologies to students and the community. The field laboratory is completely powered through emissions-free green power and boasts a 2.3 KW solar photovoltaic system, a 1.8 KW wind turbine, a 50 gal biodiesel processor, a 576 ft2 solar greenhouse, and an “off-grid” classroom.
Geological Sciences Laboratory
Located in the Robert C. Byrd Science and Technology Center is the Geological Sciences Laboratory. This is a teaching and research facility used for both lecture and lab activities. The room contains research equipment used in classical geology, paleontology, mineralogy, and geomorphology. The room is equipped with a variety of equipment including petrascopes, rock saws, analytical fume hood, and miscellaneous other microscopes. The laboratory also has an enormous rock collection from around the world.
Astrophysical Science Laboratory
Located in the Robert C. Byrd Science and Technology Center is the Astrophysical Science Lab, which is a dedicated teaching facility used for both lecture and lab activities. The room contains equipment suitable for explorations of problems in astrophysics, including topic areas such as mechanics, fluid dynamics, and optics. This lab also contains dedicated research space and equipment, allowing faculty, staff and students to conduct original research in subfields such as cosmology, observational astrophysics, historical astronomy, and computational astrophysics.
Sustainable Systems Laboratory
Located in the Robert C. Byrd Science and Technology Center is the Sustainable Systems Laboratory. This is a dedicated teaching and research lab, allowing faculty, staff and students to do original research in soils, agriculture, hydrology, wetland ecosystems, forestry, and renewable energy. The laboratory is equipped with numerous pieces of forestry and plant survey items, well recording equipment, soil particle size analysis equipment, various soil chemical analysis equipment, and compost analysis equipment.
Located in the Robert C. Byrd Science and Technology Center is the Physics Lab, which is a dedicated teaching facility used for both lecture and lab activities. The room contains equipment suitable for explorations of problems in mechanics, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, and optics.
Aquatic Sciences Laboratory
Located in Snyder Hall is the Aquatic Sciences Laboratory. This is also a dedicated teaching and research lab, allowing faculty, staff and students to do original research in aquatic science analysis. The laboratory is equipped with YSI meters, a Marsh-McBirney Flow Meter, microscopes, and numerous pieces of analytical equipment.
Faculty focused on Environmental Studies conduct research in a wide variety of areas. The research they conduct is interdisciplinary in nature and nationally recognized.
Students in the department are nearly always involved in faculty research projects and have found these experiences to be valuable in building career skills that help make them competitive in the job market. Examples of past and current student-faculty projects include paleontological quantification and classification, examination of extraforal nectaries, excavating archeological sites on local historic properties, monitoring aquatic habitats in the Potomac River, and exploring ecological relationships in communities in succession.
Astronomy has often been called “the original science”, and is in fact one of the Seven Liberal Arts of classical education. The AstroPhysics Group is the research group made up of institutional faculty, staff, and students engaged in astronomical and astrophysical activities at Shepherd University. The Group is housed within the Shepherd University Institute for Environmental Studies. We have several ongoing research programs in cosmology, virtual reality, astronomy education, and historical astronomy. This research serves as the foundation of the Group, keeping us immersed in the dynamic fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Our continued publication and presentation activities in these fields keep our course offerings current and meaningful.
Biophysicists aim to study biological phenomena and systems using methods and principles traditionally utilized in the physical sciences. Ongoing biophysics research projects in the Institute include the use of computer models to study the dynamics of cellular signal transduction, the process by which stimuli are converted to cellular responses such as muscle contraction and electrical signals. Of particular interest is the role of calcium ions as intracellular messengers. The biophysics research initiatives in the Institute continue to inspire novel ways of integrating biologically relevant topics into the undergraduate physics curriculum