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Environmental Science Systems

Environmental Science Systems

Environmental Science Systems
Welcome to Environmental Science Systems

The Environmental Science Systems major, administered through the Department of Biological Sciences, emphasizes a multidisciplinary, or systems, approach to global ecosystems and environmental issues.  Students must recognize that Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere operate in complexly linked systems in which various components are exchanged over greatly varying time scales. Only through investigation and working toward a fuller awareness of these interactions can scientists hope to achieve an understanding of the causes and dimensions of global change, both natural and anthropogenic.

The major in Environmental Science Systems can be completed without a concentration, or with one of two pre-engineering concentrations: environmental engineering and environmental engineering sciences. These concentrations are designed to prepare students for graduate study in environmental engineering and differ in the math and major elective requirements. Both concentrations involve coursework taken at the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University. Direct admission to the graduate program at the the College of Engineering and Computer Science is possible if GPA requirements are met.

Students have the opportunity to gain field research experience in their very first year through the introductory courses that travel to Arizona or Costa Rica. Additional field and/or laboratory experiences are acquired through conducting independent research projects on such topics as soil composition and structure, carbon cycling, ecological effects of climate change, or forest succession. The laboratory facilities at Le Moyne feature modern instruments, including advanced optical and electron microscopes, an X-ray diffractometer and a carbon/nitrogen analyzer for soils and rocks. These facilities are open to student use, both in laboratory courses and independent research projects. Faculty members in natural systems, biology and chemistry serve as mentors for majors conducting their research projects. In addition, students are encouraged to seek internships with local environmental and biotech companies.

Environmental Science Systems Courses and Requirements

If you would like to learn more about courses, requirements, and opportunities for the Environmental Science Systems major or minor, please see the Le Moyne College catalog.

Student Learning Goals

We believe that all students who graduate with a degree in environmental science systems, regardless of their specialization, should be able to demonstrate the following competencies:

  1. An understanding of the philosophy behind the scientific method as well as the function and use of hypotheses, observations, experimental controls, and data analysis.
  2. The ability to write, critically read and discuss scientific literature.
  3. A fundamental understanding of how the environment is controlled by the interactions of the biological, geological, physical and chemical systems of the Earth.
  4. An understanding of the diversity of life that exists on this planet, its classification and general evolutionary path.
  5. A basic understanding the origin of natural resources and how their exploitation affects the environment.
  6. A basic understanding of the ecological principles that govern the interaction between living things and their physical environment as well as the interactions between various life forms themselves.
  7. An understanding of how science both influences and is at the same time controlled by society.
  8. An appreciation of the impact that humans have had on our planet and the implications and responsibilities of such a continuing influence.
  9. The laboratory and field skills appropriate to the discipline.

Meet the Faculty

The Environmental Science Systems program is administered through the Biological Sciences Department, but it is interdisciplinary and courses are taught by faculty in many departments.

Larry Tanner

Dr. Lawrence Tanner

Professor & Program Director View Bio
Anna O’Brien, Ph.D.

Dr. Anna O’Brien

Associate Professor, Chemistry View Bio
Sherilyn Smith, Ph.D.

Dr. Sherilyn Smith

Associate Professor, Biological Sciences View Bio

Global Ecosystems: Costa Rica

Global Ecosystems: Costa Rica

Understanding the function of ecosystems around the world, particularly those that exist within a sensitive climatic balance, is important for all students. This introductory course offers students the opportunity to study the fundamentals of evolution, ecology and earth science culminating in a two-week field experience in Costa Rica. Students will explore floral and faunal diversity, high-altitude (cloud) and low-altitude (rain) forests, highland and lowland soils, the types and effects of volcanic activity in an active volcanic arc, and the operation of coastal processes on a geologically young coastline.
Avalanche at Arenal Volcano Spider Monkey near EARTH University

Global Ecosystems: North America

Global Ecosystems: North America

This intro-level field course offers students the opportunity to study the fundamentals of ecosystem and earth science, with specific reference to North America. This study involves comparison of the Adirondacks and low and high-altitude deserts of Arizona. Field-based learning activities examine the geological and ecological processes that determine the structure and function of these two systems.

Earth's Global Environment: Iceland

Understanding Earth’s ecological environment requires study of the delicate balance between geological, biological, climatologic and anthropogenic processes. This introductory course offers students the opportunity to study these fundamental processes in Iceland, a country where the fragile nature of this environment, and the processes that shape it, are readily observed.
Ecological research at the Skaftafell National Park 

Earth's Global Environment: Galapagos

Earth's Global Environment: Galapagos

This introductory course offers you the opportunity to study the delicate balance between geological, biological, climatologic and anthropogenic processes in shaping the Earth environment and controlling the process of evolution. The Galapagos are a unique locale where the fragile nature of the environment, the processes that shape it, and the unique nature of its inhabitants are readily observed. Additionally, the historic significance of this locale in the development of one of the most fundamental of all scientific theories will be explored fully.

Get Involved on Campus


Le Moyne is proud to host a chapter of Friends of Recreation, Conservation and Environmental Stewardship (FORCES). This organization participates in conservation work, including invasive species control, in local state parks as well as environmental educational outreach programs at local schools. Membership is open to all members of the Le Moyne College community.

Pi Epsilon

Pi Epsilon promotes the study of environmental sciences through recognition of exemplary scholarly and professional activity at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Environmental science is understood to be the study of our environment and all stressors acting on it: chemical, physical, and biological. The Society seeks to promote interdisciplinary studies and foster interactions between industry and academia to further the study of environmental science. Le Moyne hosts a local chapter of Pi Epsilon; the national headquarters is at Wright State University.

Biology Club

The Biology Club is an organization whose purposes are to promote student interest and participation in the life sciences and to provide a social venue through which students may explore shared interests and make new acquaintances. The Biology Club sponsors a variety of events and activities throughout the year and helps freshman biology students adjust to college life.

Student Environmental Coalition

The purpose of the Coalition is to foster an appreciation of the outdoors and an awareness of environmental problems through a variety of outdoor activities and environmentally concerned events. Participation in outdoor events is stressed. Membership is open to all members of the Le Moyne College community.

Outing Club

Through outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, caving and canoeing, the Le Moyne College Outing Club promotes community building, personal development, and appreciation for the outdoors.

Beta Beta Beta

The Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society is a society for students, particularly undergraduates. It seeks to encourage scholarly attainment in this field of learning by reserving its active membership for those who achieve superior academic records and who indicate special aptitude for and major interest in the life sciences. It desires to cultivate intellectual interest in the natural sciences and to promote a better appreciation of the value of biological study. It thus welcomes into associate membership other students who are interested in biology. Beta Beta Beta also endeavors to extend the boundaries of human knowledge of nature by encouraging new discoveries through scientific investigation and to this end encourages undergraduate students to begin research work and report their findings in the society’s journal, BIOS. It emphasizes, therefore, a three-fold program: stimulation of scholarship, dissemination of scientific knowledge and promotion of biological research.

Get in Touch

Contact the Program Director:

Dr. Lawrence Tanner


(315) 445-4537


Contact the Program:

Science Center Addition 210
Department of Biological Sciences
Le Moyne College
1419 Salt Springs Road
Syracuse, NY 13214


(315) 445-4537


"Le Moyne has given me boundless opportunities to explore the world through scientific inquiry and service. I feel as though Le Moyne cultivated me to become a well rounded scientist, but also someone who is ready to serve others. The best part of being a Dolphin is knowing you have a supportive pod (community) that is always there to help!" - Justin Twist, ‘13

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