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Environmental Science

Environmental Science

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The Environmental Science Graduate Program prepares students for professional employment, teaching, or advanced studies in environmental science and related disciplines. Courses are offered by faculty from the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, the Water and Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific, the Marine Laboratory, and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Specific objectives of the program include seeking answers to environmental questions arising in the developing island nations of the tropical Pacific, promoting needed educational and service projects in Western Pacific island communities, and equipping graduates with the knowledge and skills needed for sound scientific inquiry and professional practice, and a solid understanding and commitment to professional ethics.



The environmental science program faculty is committed to the search for objective truth, impartial and honest scientific debate, and excellence in all endeavors. We hold that scientists must have the integrity to not compromise research or other work in response to political, ideological, social, or financial pressures. Scientific integrity also includes a commitment to share data and cooperate with others in their attempts to advance scientific understanding and replicate or verify the quality of previous work. We seek to instill these values in our students through personal example as well as thoughtful academic instruction.



BENEDICT, John, Assistant Professor, Biology
BROWN, John W., Professor, Agricultural Economics
DENTON, Gary R.W., Professor, Environmental Toxicology
FIEDLER, Curtis, Assistant Professor, Biology
GOLABI, Mohammad H., Associate Professor, Soil Science
GONG, HUI, Associate Professor, Aquaculture
JENSON, John W., Professor, Environmental Geology
JONES, Roseanne M., Professor of Economics
KERR, Alexander, Associate Professor of Marine Biology
KHOSROWPANAH, Shahram, Professor, Engineering
LANDER, Mark A., Assistant Professor, Meteorology
LINDSTROM, Dan, Assistant Professor, Biology
LOBBAN, Christopher S., Professor, Biology
MARLER, Thomas E., Professor, Pomology
McCONNELL, James, Professor, Ornamental Horticulture
MILLER, Ross H., Professor, Entomology
MOORE, AUBREY, Assistant Professor, Entomology
PETERSON, John A., Associate Professor of Anthropology
RAYMUNDO, Laurie, Associate Professor, Marine Biology
ROUSE, JOSEPH D., Associate Professor, Water Resources Engineering
WEN, Yuming, Associate Professor, Geographic Information Systems




General Admission Requirements:

Applicants must first meet the Graduate Admission Standards for pre-candidacy as described on page 12 of the Graduate Bulletin. Once admitted for pre-candidacy by the University Graduate Studies office, they may then apply for admission to the Environmental Science Program. In addition to the materials submitted for admission to pre-candidacy, applicants must submit the following to the Environmental Science Graduate Program Recruiting and Admission Committee: three letters of recommendation, a comprehensive statement of academic achievements, interests, professional goals, and specific reasons for pursuing a master’s degree in environmental science. Application packages are first evaluated by the Recruiting and Admission Committee, based on the submitted materials and the Background and Performance Requirements specified below. The Recruiting and Admission Committee recommends acceptance or rejection of the application to the Program Chair. Upon approval by the Chair, the applicant is admitted to the program.


Background and Performance Guidelines.

The Environmental Science Program is built around three component disciplines: Biology-Ecology, Geoscience-Engineering, and Management. Applicants are expected to have backgrounds related to at least one of these three disciplines. Related backgrounds are broadly defined. For example, for Biology-Ecology, related disciplines include all the various sub-disciplines of biology and of other life sciences, such as physiology, biochemistry, or genetics; the health sciences; and agricultural, animal, and plant sciences. Disciplines related to Geosciences-Engineering include the physical and natural sciences, particularly physics, chemistry, and the earth, oceanographic, and atmospheric sciences. Relevant disciplines also include engineering and applied sciences, particularly civil or mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Management-related backgrounds include economics, business, management, law, or public administration, political science, and human, economic, or political geography. Applicants with other backgrounds, especially with interdisciplinary training or experience, who have completed the recommended prerequisites listed below or can provide other evidence of their ability to successfully complete the core course requirement and a research or professional project on an appropriate topic, will be considered as well.

The recommended prerequisites listed below represent the ideal background preparation for each component discipline. It is acknowledged, however, that capable students from any given undergraduate major may not necessarily have completed the full suite of courses listed. Any of the listed prerequisites may therefore be waived by the Program Chair on the recommendation of the Recruiting and Admission Committee, based on its confidence that the applicant will nevertheless be able to successfully complete the core requirements (described in the section titled “Degree Requirements,” below). Applicants who have taken the prerequisite courses listed below, however, should have no grade lower than a C in any of the courses listed for their discipline of interest. An applicant who does not meet these grade criteria may be admitted to the program on a provisional basis, however, if a faculty member agrees to serve as his or her advisor. Full admission may be granted by the Program Chair on the recommendation of the Recruiting & Admission Committee after such a student has completed 12 hours of environmental science courses approved in advance by the student’s advisor, with grades of B or better in each of them, and has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Recruiting and Admission Committee and the Program Chair that he or she has remedied whatever deficiencies the committee identified when it recommended provisional admission.


Recommended disciplinary prerequisites


Math: 2 semesters calculus
Physics: 1 semester general physics with lab
Chemistry: 2 semesters inorganic chemistry with lab and 2 semesters organic chemistry with lab
Biology: 2 semesters of general biology with lab


Math: 2 semesters calculus
Physics: 2 semesters general physics with lab
Chemistry: 2 semesters general chemistry with lab
Biology: 1 semester biological/life science



Math: 2 semesters calculus
Physics: 1 semester general physics
Chemistry: 1 semester general chemistry
Biology: 1 semester biological/life science
Economics & business: 1 semester microeconomics + 1 semester intro to business or public administration



Upon admission, students must choose and be accepted by a faculty advisor with expertise in their selected sub-discipline. Subsequently, the student’s individual program is developed by the student and his or her advisor, and monitored by the advisor and the student’s advisory committee. Final program approval requires endorsement by the chair of the Environmental Science Program, with subsequent approval by the Assistant Vice President for Graduate Studies & Sponsored Programs. In consultation with his or her advisor, each student must select which of the two tracks he or she will follow for the capstone experience: professional or research, as described below. For the research track, the capstone experience is a research thesis. For the professional track there are three options: an internship, a project, or additional coursework. Students may only apply for degree candidacy and register for capstone credits after their proposal has been presented to and approved by their advisory committee, as described below.




The Core Requirement

The University of Guam’s graduate Environmental Science Program is a rigorous and challenging program, designed to produce graduates equipped with the essential knowledge and skills and committed to the highest standards of professional integrity in research and application of environmental science to matters of public interest. The core curriculum thus contains consists of six courses totaling 18 credit hours: The “inner core” is three courses totaling nine hours, centered on the essential skills of scientific thought and practice and the basic tools of applied environmental science. Scientific Competence & Integrity (EV/BI509, 3 credit hours) addresses critical thinking, the defining methods of science and the evolution of scientific thought and practice, problems associated with the application of science to public problems, both past and present, and historical and contemporary ethical issues in scientific and professional practice. The other two courses are “tools” courses, Advanced Statistical Methods (EV/BI507, 4 credit hours), which equips students with quantitative skills for rigorous experimental design and interpretation, and Environmental Impact Assessment (EV513, 2 credit hours), which introduces students to this essential management application of environmental science in the United States. Building on these basic courses, is an “outer core” of three three-hour courses in each of the three sub-disciplines—biology-ecology, geosciences-engineering, and economics-management. Students take all three of these courses, irrespective of which sub-discipline they choose for their concentration. This suite of courses, thus equips each student with the essential knowledge and skills and from each of the three sub-disciplines that define environmental science.


The Elective Requirement

Beyond the core, each student must complete 12 credit hours of elective courses related to his or her selected area of concentration and agreed upon by his or her advisor. Elective courses should support the student’s proposed capstone requirement within either the research or professional track, as described below. The capstone requirement is a minimum of 6 hours of thesis or professional project hours, thus requiring a total of 18 additional hours (of elective and thesis/project hours) in the program beyond the core requirement, for a total of 36 hours. Given that a full-time load is 9 hours per semester, this requirement is based on the expectation that full-time students will complete their program in two years.


Scientific Communications Skills Co-Requisites

Finally, students admitted to the program must either demonstrate proficiency in scientific writing and speaking to the satisfaction of their advisory committee, or complete the respective course in each of these skills: Environmental Literature & Scientific Presentation (EV504, 1 credit hour) and Biological Literature & Scientific

Writing (BI503, 2 credit hours). These courses develop the basic skills of oral and written scientific communication in the context of environmental science. The student’s thesis/project committee may waive these requirements only if the student provides evidence that satisfies the committee that he or she has the requisite skills in scientific speaking and writing to succeed in the program without taking these courses.



Students must maintain at least a B (3.00) average, with no more than one grade of C or lower in all courses taken for credit. Students may retake any course for which they have received a grade of C or lower. However, any student who fails to improve his or her grade to at least a B after re-taking the course and whose record shows two unimproved C grades as a result, will be dismissed from the program.



The purpose of the research track is to prepare students for advanced (doctoral level) studies in environmental science and related disciplines, and careers in scientific research or professional work for which a research background is necessary or desirable. The capstone requirement for the research track is a traditional research thesis, for which the student earns six hours of academic credit. General requirements for research theses are described on page 12 of the Graduate Bulletin. Research theses in Environmental Science are expected to make an original contribution to the selected sub-discipline and reflect mastery of the knowledge and skills required to successfully pursue advanced study and research in environmental science. At the discretion of the advisory committee, a thesis deemed worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed professional journal may be awarded the grade of “Pass with Distinction.” The thesis grade (Pass with Distinction, Pass, or Fail) is assigned by the Advisory Committee, based on its evaluation of the written thesis and its oral defense.



The purpose of the professional track is to produce competent and credentialed professionals prepared especially for employment in government, industry, or education. Students following the professional track may select one of the three options described below: internship, project, or additional coursework. The professional track options demand the same mastery of basic knowledge and skills required of the research-track students, including writing skills. These options, however, accommodate students planning professional careers in the private or public sectors rather than scientific research careers, and whose circumstances (such as already being employed full time and/or having parental or other family commitments) may preclude them from undertaking thesis research. Each option culminates with a written report or paper (of no fewer than 20 pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times Roman, inclusive of figures and references). The report or paper should be suitable, in accordance with the topic, for local and/or on-line publication as a technical report, user’s manual, review paper, or educational pamphlet. Each option also requires a comprehensive oral examination following submission of the report or paper. Following the oral examination the student corrects or revises the report or paper, based on the committee’s review of it. The grade (Pass or Fail) is based on the committee’s evaluation of the final report or paper and the outcome of the oral examination. General requirements for capstone activities are contained in the Graduate Bulletin.


Internship Option

This option consists of a semester-length six-credit-hour internship (EV698) with an environmental firm (profit or non-profit) or government agency, under collaborative supervision of an academic advisor and work supervisor. The internship must include work on a specific project, product, or set of projects and products. These are agreed upon in advance by the student and committee (which includes the work supervisor), and approved by the program chair. At the completion of the internship, the student prepares and presents a written report, as specified above, on the project or projects undertaken during the internship, with the purpose and content of the report agreed on in advance by the student and the committee. Following submission of the report the student stands for a comprehensive oral examination.

Example: The student is employed with the environmental office of the local US Navy Facilities Command.  As part of his work he is required to coordinate the production of an Environmental Impact Assessment in conjunction with the relocation of wetlands on Navy property.  In consultation with his academic and professional supervisors, he prepares a proposal which he presents to his committee, and ultimately a report on the specific insights gained and lessons learned that might apply to the relocation of wetlands in general, and on Guam or similar islands, in particular.


Project Option

This option consists of a semester-length six-credit-hour project (EV690) agreed upon by the student and committee, and approved by the program chair. This would be a project other than scientific research that would nevertheless be of value to environmental practice or education. An example might be the development of a website containing animations, databases, and informative or instructional material on a selected local or regional environmental problem. The student prepares a proposal agreed upon by the student and committee, and approved by the program chair. At the completion of the project, the student prepares and presents a written report, as specified above, and stands for a comprehensive oral examination before his or her committee. The student may elect, or the committee may require, that the examination include an exhibit or demonstration of the project.

Example: The student is employed as an instructor in environmental science at the Guam Community College.  She prepares a website and supporting instructional materials accessible to secondary school teachers and other community college instructors on Pacific Island water resources, including animations of groundwater infiltration, storage, flow, and discharge in the different types of aquifers that are characteristic of Pacific islands. To meet the writing requirement, the student prepares a comprehensive guide and user’s manual for the website, including appropriate scientific/technical background and references, suitable for publication and distribution to website users. 


Coursework Option

This option requires twelve hours of additional coursework equivalent to a second major sub-discipline. The student may select a second concentration from among the three sub-disciplines (Biology-Ecology, Geosciences-Engineering, or Management) or a second concentration in a relevant inter-disciplinary field, such as Mathematics, Micronesian Studies, or Business Administration. Thus, in addition to selecting 12 hours for the first sub-discipline concentration, the student selects courses comprising 12 additional hours in an appropriate field. Examples of such courses include probability and statistics and numerical analysis from Mathematics; physical geography, health and human adaptation, or economic development in Micronesia from Micronesian Studies; or management and economics courses from Business Administration. These courses may also include no more than one special topic or reading and conference course in or related to the field. The committee must include members with expertise in the two concentrations selected, and agree on the curriculum proposed by the student. The student also prepares a proposal for a research paper, as specified above, which must address a topic related to one or both of the two selected concentration areas of coursework and make a judgment or present a case, drawing on a comprehensive review of the current scientific literature. The topic must be agreed upon by the committee and approved by the program chair. On completion of the coursework, the student submits the paper to the committee and stands for a comprehensive oral examination.

Example:  The student is employed as an instructor at the College of Micronesia.  He selects Geology/Engineering as his first major sub-discipline concentration, comprised of Hydrology (EV542), Hydrogeology (EV543), Pacific Island Geologic and Climatic History (EV547), and Tropical Climate and Climate Variability (EV535).  For the second sub-discipline concentration field he selects Micronesian Studies, with Physical Geography of Micronesia (EV/MI506), Health and Human Adaptation in Micronesia (EV514), Economic Development and Change in Micronesia (EV520), and Readings in Micronesian Studies (EV599) in which he will search, read and study the literature pertaining to water resources on Micronesia and similar islands.  For the research paper, the student conducts a comprehensive literature search and prepares a paper on the historical incidence of El Nino-related droughts in Micronesia, its effects, and the human responses to them.



Coursework and capstone requirements are summarized in the table below. Each student must complete the core requirement, consisting of 18 credit hours, plus 12 hours of elective courses. Electives may include no more than 6 hours of 400G-level courses. Students in the research track must also complete 6 hours of thesis credit. Similarly, students taking the internship or project options within the professional track (as described in the following section), must complete 6 hours of credit for their internship or project. For students taking the coursework option within the professional track, the capstone requirement includes 12 credit hours of additional elective courses and a research paper.



Curriculum Component
Course Title
Credit Hours
Fundamentals of Scientific Practice and Tools of Environmental Science*

Scientific Competence & Integrity

 Advanced Statistical MethodsEV/BI5074
Component Disciplines


 EV510 3



Economics-Management Law



 As appropriate to support capstone research or project. (No more than 6 hours of 400G level.) 12


 Research thesis, internship, or project ***EV69X66

Coursework option, professional track:  additional 12-hour concentration ****


 Co-requisite courses: Scientific Communications Skills**

 Environmental Literature & Scientific PresentationEV5041
 Biological Literature & Scientific WritingBI5032


*Students should take these courses in the first year of their program.

**This requirement can be waived by the student’s thesis/project committee based on evidence presented by the student that he or she already has the requisite skills in spoken and written English to present his or her work at scientific meetings and contribute to the professional literature.

***Professional Project: EV690; Research Thesis: EV695; Professional Internship: EV698, as appropriate.

****Students selecting the Coursework Option within the Professional Track must take an additional 12 hours of electives, for a total of 24 elective credit hours, and submit and defend a research paper.


What careers are available to someone with a degree in Environmental Science?

  1. Conservation Scientists
  2. Environmental Engineers
  3. Environmental Inspectors
  4. Environmental Scientists
  5. Foresters and Forestry Technicians
  6. Wildlife Technicians