Environmental Science Systems


The Environmental Science Systems (formerly called Natural Systems Science) 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.

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.     

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 College is possible if GPA requirements are met.

Le Moyne College also offers the Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies. Information on this major can be obtained by clicking here.                                                                                                             


Travel in the Name of Science

Most of us know about deforestation from documentaries we watch at the local IMAX theatre, or maybe from the occasional magazine article about the clear-cutting of Amazonian rain forests. For many young Americans, “deforestation” is a long, ambiguous word and an issue affecting places far away. For two Le Moyne Environmental Science majors (Morgan and Megan), however, the ambiguity was replaced by an understanding very tangible and direct.

Those students travelled with Dr. Lawrence Tanner to Costa Rica during the 2014 winter break. Their purpose: to observe the ecological succession that has been occurring in a place where deforestation is very local and all too real.

The students and Dr. Tanner compared the soils and vegetation of Costa Rican pastures, young forests, and mature forests. They found evidence that helps them better grasp how climates are changing because of the removal of carbon from the atmosphere. They have presented their results at Le Moyne's annual Scholars Day and at the 2015 meeting of the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America.

These are not the first of Le Moyne’s Environmental Science majors to travel in the name of science. In fact, all Environmental Science Systems majors are required to take a course in which they travel to an environment much different from that in central New York. Dr. Tanner has taken other students to Iceland, Arizona and the Galapagos Islands.


Return to the top of the page

See video clips of Le Moyne trips on YouTube!




Overview of the 2014 Iceland trip (by Samantha Peltz '15)

1. The group doing ecological research at Skaftafell National Park.

2. A visit to the Jokulsarlon (Glacier Lagoon).

3. Watching puffins on Heimaey.

4. On the tuff cone at Hverfjall.

5. Gulfoss waterfall.


Costa Rica


6. Avalanche on Arenal volcano.

7. Spider monkey near EARTH University.

8. Mudpot at Rincon de la Vieja.

9. Futbol on the beach