The Environmental Science Lab is located in WS245 with Environmental Projects labs adjacent to it. We have state-of-the-art equipment for environmental testing. In addition, our students are in the field very often so we have field sampling equipment, including equipment for sampling and measuring water quality, plant physiology and community characteristics and soil chemical, physical and biological properties. There is also a separate lab in the building for GIS projects and classes.
A major strength of our program is the unique access to various field sites, including the Colorado National Monument, BLM land, USFS land on the Grand Mesa and Uncompaghre Plateau, and the Colorado, Gunnison and Yampa Rivers. These areas give us access to rangelands, forests, wetlands, streams, lakes, ponds, threatened and rare species, and restoration areas such as abandoned gravel, uranium and coal mines.
Students often complete an internship during their junior or senior years in the program. These internship experiences tend to be similar to entry-level, post-graduation positions, giving our graduates excellent experience in the work place.
Research Opportunities/Independent Study
Recent student research projects have included a fire history survey and a vegetation restoration experiment at the Colorado National Monument, soil and vegetation characteristics on natural gas well pads, a greenhouse experiment on revegetation of cheatgrass infested rangelands, mine closure projects near Rifle and Gateway, energy efficiency analysis of campus buildings, invasive species control in a local watershed, a bio-reactor experiment involving selenium, and runoff, sediment loading, and vegetation change at Badger Wash. Students have brought together many skills from their coursework to pursue these projects, and have gained solid experience to take with them into the job market.
Students complete a 2 credit Capstone course in the spring of their senior year. Student groups select a project and work with a client in the Grand Junction community, similar to a consulting contract. Past projects have included working with the Bureau of Land Management, Division of Wildlife, US Forest Service or local contractors. For their projects, students have created a GIS of abandoned mine sites, a data base of water quality for local watersheds, a plan for the restoration of a local stream which has been overtaken by an invasive species, and many others.
For many upper division courses, independent projects are required. For instance, in Soils & Sustainability student groups select an area to characterize the soils. Students may then move on to an independent project in the area. In Restoration Ecology, students do a restoration plan for a local area. This includes background research, measuring primary processes and suggestions for the repair of the damaged lands. Three of the restoration projects have recently been carried out.