Santa Clara University

Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

News & Events


Environmental Studies and Sciences News & Events

  •  ESS has a new home!

    Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012

    ESS has a new home!

    The Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences has a new home on the second floor of Varsi Hall.

    Although we’ll miss our old location (a lovely house off the edge of campus), we’re excited to be situated closer to the heart of campus. We now have a larger number of offices to support our growing faculty. One of the most exciting developments is that we will have a dedicated GIS lab on our floor. The lab will hopefully be up and running by winter of 2013.

    Stop by and visit us in our new location!

    • lobby    Leah Nakasaki
    • 203       Lindsey Cromwell (Office of Sustainability)
    • 204       Leslie Gray
    • 214       Stephanie Hughes
    • 215       Peter Kareiva
    • 216       Michelle Marvier (Dept. Chair)
    • 217       Virginia Matzek
    • 218       Chris Bacon
    • 219       Iris Stewart-Frey
    • 220       John Farnsworth
    • 221       Joanna Johnson
  •  Intro courses come first!

    Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012

    Our ES majors are a bit unorthodox. And we love that about you. But there are some things that really should be done by the book. For example, our introductory courses ENVS 21, 22, and 23 are just that – introductory. If you dive straight into our more advanced courses, you will end up super bored taking ENVS 21 in the last quarter of your senior year. Trust us on this – we hear the complaints!

    To help you get your life in better order, we will be phasing in pre-requisites on many of our upper division courses.

    Q&A on prerequisites

    What’s in it for me?

    1.      You won’t end up totally bored taking intro ENVS courses in your final year of school.

    2.      We will be able to pump up the rigor and expectations for our upper division courses because we assume everyone in the room understands the basics.

    Why didn’t the department do this sooner?

    We now have enough majors (about 150 majors across all four years) that we can start to enforce prerequisites and still get large enough enrollments in our classes.

    What if I didn’t plan ahead?

    Don’t panic. We will phase the prerequisites in over the next couple of years. This year, you will see for example that the prerequisite for ENVS 115 GIS is “ENVS 21 or 23 recommended.” See how gentle that is? We say “recommended”, not “required.” But this will change over the next couple of years to “ENVS 21 or 23 required” and eventually “ENVS 21 and 23 required.” So, start doing things in the right order now and your whole life will be way far happier.

    What about the capstone course?

    ENVS 101 Environmental Capstone is a culminating research intensive course where you apply your skills and knowledge to a pressing environmental question. The prerequisites for this course are “ENVS 21, 22, 23 and senior class standing. ENVS 110 or 115 strongly recommended.” The only exception to the “senior class standing” part is if you will be studying abroad in winter of your senior year. Other exceptions will require the instructor’s permission.

    Ooops – I need to take ENVS 21, 22, or 23 soon!

    Good news – We will be offering both ENVS 21 and ENVS 22 in the fall, winter, and spring quarters this year. ENVS 23 will be offered in fall and winter. Remember to take advantage of preregistration to reserve your spot early.

  •  Mono Lake will be further stressed by climate change

    Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012


    California’s Mono Lake is already a fragile, water-limited ecosystem, but new research by SCU researchers suggests that global climate change will substantially aggravate problems in the Mono Lake Basin.

    SCU faculty members Iris Stewart-Frey (ESS), Ed Maurer (Civil Engineering), and Darren Ficklin (ESS) used downscaled climate models and hydrologic models to project the future conditions in the Mono Lake Basin. Their models suggest that by the end of this century, Mono Lake will likely experience a 15% decrease in annual streamflow, earlier peak snowmelt runoff (shifted from June to May), a decreased occurrence of ‘wet’ hydrologic years, and more frequent drought conditions.

    Under a 1983 ruling, the water diversions away from Mono Lake are carefully balanced with the ecological needs of the lake ecosystem. However, this balance has been struck without detailed consideration of the effects of global climate change. This new research suggests that both ecosystem health and water diversions may be affected by reduced water availability in the Mono Lake Basin by the end of the century.

    A paper describing this research has been accepted to the journal Climatic Change. 


    Mono Lake from