Interested in the study and protection of our environment? The geologic history and future of the Earth? The oceans? All of the above? Would you like to turn your passion into a career?
UMW’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is the place to learn about all aspects of the Earth sciences and our role in living with the Earth’s resources and limitations. We offer a B.S. in Environmental Science and Geology, with the following concentrations to help you focus on your individual goals:
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Dr. Tyler Frankel, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences, is the recipient of the 2023 Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Young Faculty. Since arriving at UMW in 2018, Dr. Frankel has established a strong research program that has trained 19 undergraduate research students, culminating in four co-authored student publications in high-quality journals and 35 conference abstracts. He has secured multiple external grants totaling over $210k and is a recipient of a Jepson Fellowship. He has expanded the curriculum in the Department by the addition of courses in Advanced Ecotoxicology and Sustainable Aquaculture and has developed student laboratory investigations focused on “cutting edge” environmental issues, such as the ecological threat of microplastics and the promise of sustainable agriculture. Dr. Frankel also serves on the UMW Honor Council and is a member of the UMW Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. His service to the greater scientific community includes membership on the Board of Directors for the Chesapeake Potomac Regional Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
EESC Student Success at 2023 UMW SSI Symposium
Congratulations to Jessica Oberlies (Env. Sci. ’25) for taking first place on her poster presentation at UMW’s 2023 Summer Science Symposium on her coral and climate research. Her project is titled, “A new coral geochemical archive to reconstruct central tropical Pacific climate” and she is mentored by Dr. Grothe. Their work hopes to better understand the climate impacts in the tropical Pacific.
Jessica Oberlies (left- EESC 25′) and Dr. Pamela Grothe (Assistant Professor- EESC)
Frankel Provides Plenary Talk For FMC Corporation R&D Expo
Dr. Tyler Frankel (Assistant Professor- EESC) was invited to provide the opening plenary talk at the FMC Corporation R&D Expo in June 2023. Held at the Delaware Stine Research Facility, this two-day event gathered FMC scientists from around the world to learn about the latest innovations, share ideas, and celebrate the company’s achievements. His talk titled “Developing and Applying Sensitive Methods To Assess Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals” provided an overview of his ecotoxicology program over the last decade and highlighted the exciting research and collaborations currently being conducted alongside undergraduates at the University of Mary Washington. Dr. Frankel is also a recipient of the 2022 FMC New Investigator Award which provides $50,000 in funds to support his research efforts.
Dr. Pamela Grothe has been featured in a story published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, read all about it in the link below. Congratulations Dr. Grothe!
EESC Faculty Receives NSF Research Opportunity Award
Congratulations to Dr. Pamela Grothe, Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, for receiving a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) award through their Research Opportunity Award – award opportunities for faculty at primarily undergraduate teaching institutions. She was award $112,000 on her work titled “A multi-coral genus approach to reconstructing central tropical Pacific during the 19th and 20th centuries”. The goal of the research is to create a 200-yr-long record of temperatures in the tropical Pacific using the geochemistry of coral skeletons to quantify the human-induced warming in this region and allow for more accurate future predictions of climate change. Her work is alongside collaborators from Brown University and Florida State University and will include multiple UMW undergraduate students – and yes, that means a field trip to the tropical Pacific!
UMW Represents at Joint CPRC/HDC Chapter SETAC 2022 Spring Meeting
Two EESC undergraduate students have won awards for their presentations at the Joint Chesapeake-Potomac Regional Chapter and Hudson-Delaware Chapter SETAC 2022 Spring Meeting which was held in Newark, DE from April 11th- April 12th. Presentations were judged by professionals in academia, governmental institutions, and private industry and included competition with Masters and Ph.D. students. Carolyn Willmore (Junior- EESC) won 1st place in the poster competition with her abstract titled “Assessing the Presence and Concentration of Anthropogenic Contaminants Near the Crows Nest Natural Area Preserve (Stafford, VA).” Sophia Weldi (Senior- EESC) won 2nd place in the poster competition with her abstract titled “Comparing the Impacts of Common Deicing agents NaCl and MgCl2 on the Viability, Embryonic Development, and Behavior of the Freshwater Gastropod Physa acuta.” Pamela Daniels (Senior- EESC) and Katherine Wolfe (Recent alumni- EESC) also presented a poster titled “Assessing the Effects of Aqueous Exposure to di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate on the Viability, Behavior, and Heartrate of Daphnia magna.” Each student was mentored by Dr. Tyler Frankel (Assistant Professor- EESC). Please congratulate them when you see them!
We are pleased to announce that Dr. Tyler Frankel (Assistant Professor- EESC) has been awarded a $92,037 First Award Wildlife Grant by the Morris Animal Foundation. Designed to assist early career scientists in establishing a successful research program, the funds from this award will support an intensive two-year project examining the impacts of Virginia coal ash repositories on freshwater wetlands using cutting-edge toxicology and environmental DNA (eDNA) methods. Included in the grant are Dr. Ben Kisila (Professor – EESC) and Dr. Leanna Giancarlo (Assoc. Prof- CHEM) who will serve as faculty mentors.
EESC Students Present At Roundtable Symposium
EESC Majors Claire Bradley, Pam Daniels, and Katherine Wolfe recently completed a summer research project with Prof. John Tippett. They delivered presentations on their project, “Underperformance of Stormwater Bioretention Practices in the Central Rappahannock Region: Causes, Effects & Solutions” to the Rappahannock Roundtable Symposium in Fredericksburg, and in a poster session at the American Water Works Association WaterJAM Conference in Virginia Beach (https://fb.watch/8nbWqpGO30/).
In the coming months, they will be presenting their results and recommendations to the Chesapeake Watershed Forum and to the Stafford County Department of Development Services. Additional information.
We are pleased to announce that Dr. Pamela Grothe has been selected for the 2021 UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Award (OYFA). Presented during the UMW All University Assembly in Dodd Auditorium, Dr. Grothe’s selection was based on her engaged teaching, stellar and crucial research, and service to the campus and broader community. She joins a growing number of EESC faculty who have received competitive awards including Dr. Grant Woodwell (1991- OYFA), Dr. Melanie Szulczewski (2013- OYFA), and Professor John Tippett (2018- Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award). Congratulations Dr. Grothe!
EESC Students Receive Meeting Attendance Grants to Present at SETAC Portland
We are pleased to announce that Sophia Weldi (left – class of 2022), Catherine Crowell (middle – class of 2022), and Rina Murasaki (right – class of 2022) have each been awarded a travel grant to support their participation in the upcoming SETAC North America 42nd Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon. Established by the SETAC NA Board of Directors in 1991, this competitive program selects awardees based on the quality of their research, career goals, and previous accomplishments. Their research focuses on examining the impacts of a wide range of anthropogenic pollutants on both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. Congratulations!
EESC Student Success at 2021 UMW Summer Science Institute Research Symposium
Four EESC students presented the results of their summer research projects at the UMW 2021 Summer Science Institute Symposium which was held on August 21st. Their research covered a wide range of topics, including:
- Paleoclimate analysis using growth bands and stable isotopes from mid-to-late 1700s Stratford Hall oysters – Lyra Winters (Class of 2023), Advisor: Dr. Pamela Grothe
- Assessing the Impacts of the Common Deicing Agent NaCl on the Viability, Embryonic Development, and Behavior of the Freshwater Snail Physa acuta– Sophia Weldi (Class of 2022), Advisor: Dr. Tyler Frankel
- The Effects of Coal Ash Concentration on the Development, Hatching Rate, and Reproduction in Planorbella duryi – Catherine Crowell (Class of 2022), Advisor: Dr. Tyler Frankel
- Assessing the Impacts of Neonicotinoid Pesticides on the Viability, Biomass, and Behavior of the Earthworm (Eisenia fetida) Using an Agar Medium- Rina Murasaki (Class of 2022), Advisor: Dr. Tyler Frankel
Several of these students also earned awards for their excellent presentations. Sophia Weldi (left) was awarded 1st place and Rina Murasaki (middle) was awarded 2nd place in the UMW SSI platform competition. Catherine Crowell (right) was awarded 1st place in the UMW SSI poster competition. Each 1st place winner received a generous scholarship through the John C. and Jerri Barden Perkins ’61 Summer Science Research Institute Endowment. Congratulations to our amazing students!
EESC Student Awarded Student Research Grant by GSA
Eden Rakes (Environmental Geology, ’21) was awarded an Undergraduate Student Research Grant by the Geological Society of America. With the guidance of Dr. Grothe, Eden studies how eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) record environmental changes when they secrete their shells. Her research helps us further understand our changing climate and restore the Chesapeake Bay. The fully funded grant allows Eden to investigate multidecadal climate variability at Stratford Hall, which went into economic decline during the mid to late 1700s.
EESC Student Participates in Press Conference at American Geophysical Union Meeting
Allison Grant (EESC, ’20) has been quoted in a recent article titled “Climate racism is real. Researchers found it in U.S. cities” (https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063720333). Advised by Dr. Pamela Grothe, Allison’s research specifically focused on the impacts of redlining on land surface temperature in several Virginia cities. Her findings suggest that, while redlined communities are significantly warmer than non-redlined communities and the change in land surface temperature over time was not significant, the legacy of redlining has locked in these disparities and that they have existed for decades.
Catherine Crowell (EESC, ‘21) has been awarded 1st place in the 2020 Chesapeake and Potomac Regional Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry virtual poster competition. Her presentation titled “The presence, distribution, and concentration of trace metals in the James River near a coal-burning repository” was judged by professionals in academia, governmental institutions, and private industry. Catherine’s research is mentored by Dr. Tyler Frankel (EESC), Dr. Ben O. Kisila (EESC), and Dr. Leanna Giancarlo (CHEM).
EESC Student Receives 2020 Virginia Water Environment Association (VWEA) Undergraduate Scholarship
Catherine Crowell has been selected as a recipient of the 2020 Virginia Water Environment Association Undergraduate Scholarship. This competitive award is given annually to students enrolled at Virginia universities in a civil or environmental engineering or physical/environmental science undergraduate program, with selections based on each candidate’s academic performance, research experience, and extracurricular activities. Under the mentorship of Dr. Tyler Frankel (EESC), Dr. Ben Kisila (EESC), and Dr. Leanna Giancarlo (CHEM), Katie’s research centers around examining the presence of coal ash contaminants near power plants in VA and their impacts on aquatic invertebrates.
Department students present research at UMW’s 2020 Summer Science Institute
Allison Grant (Environmental Science) was among departmental students presenting the results of their summer research at UMW on July 22. Her work under the supervision of Dr. Pamela Grothe consisted of a study of the lingering environmental consequences of the now-banned discriminatory practice of real estate “redlining”. Information on other Earth and Environmental Sciences students’ summer research to follow soon!
Thomas de Triquet (Environmental Science, ’17) integrated into a rural subsistence farming village and shared knowledge regarding climate-smart agriculture, sustainable forest management, and animal husbandry. He also taught adult literacy, youth environmental awareness, established a tree nursery, and encouraged food self-security within his resident population. Thomas is now planning to pursue graduate work in sustainable development.
Grant awarded to UMW faculty for environmental study at the Crows Nest Research Center in Stafford County, Virginia
Congratulations to Dr. Tyler Frankel (pictured) of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department and Dr. Abbie Tomba of the Biology Department, who have been awarded a $16,504 grant to finance study of at the Crows Nest Research Center in Stafford County, Virginia. The research will be carried out beginning in the Summer of 2020. Click here for more details!
UMW student receives 2019 runner-up award at Geological Society of America conference in Phoenix, AZ
Lauren Chartier (Biology, ’20; Environmental Sustainability minor), pictured at right, won a runner up in Environmental & Engineering Geology Session – Students research presentation competition at the national annual Geological Society of America conference in Phoenix Arizona ( September 22 – 25) for her poster “The biogeochemistry of reclaimed sand-mined soils in Caroline County, Virginian Coastal plains, USA”. Lauren’s research was supervised by Dr. Ben O. Kisila (Earth and Environmental Sciences Department) and Dr. Josephine Antwii (Biology Department). Also involved with the research is Earth and Environmental Sciences graduate Dr. Matthew Ricker (now on the faculty of North Carolina State University).
UMW’s Summer Science Institute awards for Earth and Environmental Science students
Departmental students presented results of their summer research at UMW’s 2019 Summer Science Institute symposium on July 24. Environmental Science student Mary Hoffman (Class of 2020) was awarded first prize in the poster category, while Thanh-Binh Duong (class of 2020) was awarded second prize in the oral presentation category. Both students are advised by Dr. Tyler Frankel. Catherine Crowell (Class of 2021), co-advised by Dr. Frankel and Dr. Ben O. Kisila, was awarded second prize in the poster category.
Binh and Mary presented their results at the Spring 2019 meeting of the Chesapeake Potomac Regional Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry