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Environmental Science & Sustainability MS


THE AIMS OF THE BYU environmental science & sustainability program are to provide students with experiences that are spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, and character building that lead to lifelong learning and service. Addressing environmental issues with sound scientific principles and reasonable solutions is at the core of our teaching and research. As scientists and students we embrace the concepts that the earth and its resources are for the benefit and use of man and need to be carefully managed as part of our stewardship.

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Pursuit of the MS degree in Environmental Science & Sustainability provides students with research and education opportunities in environmental protection and remediation and in plant growth and physiology. Students will select graduate coursework in soil science, biology, and environmentally related courses taught in departments across the campus. Those completing program requirements will be well prepared for employment in environmental science positions at the state and federal level, teaching at the junior college level, and continued graduate studies for the PhD. Research and teaching interests include environmental toxicology, pollination biology, improvement in teaching undergraduates in biology, plant growth under environmental stress, invasive species, plant physiology, urban landscape environments, bioremediation of contaminated soils and water, and both modern and ancient agricultural environments.

Graduation Requirements

  • 30 hours (24 coursework or seminar and 6 thesis hours, PWS 699R)
  • No more than 10 hours of senior, and transfer credit and no Independent Study (except prerequisites) can be applied toward the MS degree.
  • PWS 694 R (Seminar) 2 semesters
  • STAT 511
  • Biannual progress evaluations with Advisory Committee
  • Program of Study and selection of Advisory Committee, complete by the end of 1st semester
  • Prospectus and Oral Presentation to Committee, complete by the end of 2nd semester
  • Final oral defense of thesis
  • At least one manuscript from thesis prepared for publication
Environmental Science & Sustainability in the News
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Air pollution costs Utahns billions annually and shortens life expectancy by two years

November 18, 2020 09:13 AM
New study led by ESS undergraduate Isabella Errigo reveals the cost of air pollution for Utahns’ health and pocketbooks
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BYU researchers help test wastewater for COVID-19 infection rates in Utah

May 18, 2020 09:58 PM
ESS professor Zach Aanderud and his team of students use cutting-edge molecular methods to track COVID-19 in municipal wastewater.
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How You Can Have a Positive Impact on the Climate Change Emergency

November 23, 2020 07:20 AM
COVID-19 isn’t the only worldwide emergency affecting billions of people—climate change continues to threaten us with devastating implications. Here are some ways to help.
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Studying climate change at opposite ends of the Earth

ESS undergraduate Natasha Griffin has presented at conferences in Europe, ridden in a helicopter and visited both the North and South Poles to figure out how humans are affecting the Earth.
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The price of air pollution

We all know intuitively that polluted air isn't good for our bodies or communities, but just how much is air pollution costing us? ESS undergraduates and faculty led a statewide study to answer just that.
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Influencing Environmental Change from Iran to Utah

April 08, 2020 10:36 AM
ESS PhD student Sara Sayedi wanted to use science to improve policy in her home country of Iran, but politics limited her work in the public arena. Now at BYU, she is influencing policy at a global scale.
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After a mega fire: how waterways are impacted by wildfires

BYU team investigates ecosystem resilience to wildfire, linking plants, streams, climate, and society
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Tree Heart Attacks: Aspen Clones Dying

Professor Sam St. Clair from the Environmental Science & Sustainability program takes the vitals of one of North America's keystone tree species.
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How environmental justice affects all of us

June 24, 2021 12:30 PM
Environmental degradation harms every individual by causing pervasive decline of life on Earth, but it doesn’t impact everyone to the same degree. ESS professor Ben Abbott shares three ways to improve your understanding on how environmental justice affects you and your community.
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Saving the world's water (and humans) one little stream at a time

January 16, 2018 10:00 PM
ESS professor Ben Abbott presents a new tool to fight nutrient pollution. Streams can be “sensors” of ecosystem health, allowing both improved water quality and food production.

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Fighting bad air quality with ... dance?

September 11, 2018 10:00 PM
Dance professor Keely Song and ESS professor Ben Abbott teamed up to promote BYU's free UTA passes to students, employees, and their families.
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Dr. Gary Booth: A Lifelong Legacy

July 03, 2020 03:29 PM
While at BYU, Dr. Gary Booth taught a wide range of subjects. Students and faculty alike appreciated Booth and his impact on the college.
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BYU analysis of 115+ studies: Masks powerful & cost-effective in combating COVID-19

July 23, 2020 09:56 AM
After reading 115 studies on COVID-19, ESS faculty and students published non-technical report on the effectiveness of masks at slowing the spread.
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Why are aspen dying?

June 27, 2013 10:00 PM
If Utah’s quaking aspen appear to be quaking more than usual this summer, the trees have reason to tremble, says a Brigham Young University biologist. In dappled forests across the West, aspen trees are battling deadly killers from heat stroke to bud-nipping predators to tree “heart attacks.”
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Permafrost Collapse and the Global Ecosystem

March 17, 2020 11:10 AM
ESS professor Ben Abbott co-authored a study in Nature on the permafrost climate feedback. Working with an international team, he found that abrupt permafrost collapse could double carbon release.
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Water cycle diagrams are giving us a false sense of water security

June 10, 2019 10:00 PM
A new study in Nature Geoscience led by ESS professor and students found that the global water cycle is incorrect even in modern papers and textbooks. 85% of diagrams show no people, despite human domination of water at a global scale.
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Plant & Wildlife Sciences Across the Map

June 29, 2020 02:18 PM
Professors and students from Environmental Science & Sustainability lead research projects from Antarctica to Alaska.
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Study finds bedrock is teeming with microorganisms protecting water quality

February 03, 2019 10:00 PM
The solution to nutrient pollution could be right below out feet. Literally. New study reveals the active and dynamic world of groundwater microbes.
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Interdependence and Stewardship: Piecing Together Humanity’s Relationship with the Earth

By Carlee Reber
June 05, 2019 01:06 PM
Will we show up in the geologic record in millions of years? The Anthropocene suggests the answer is yes: collective human impact on the environment will leave a definitive mark in future bedrock.
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