Environmental Chemistry

College of Natural Science and Mathematics
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Ph.D. Degrees

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Minimum Requirements for Degree: 18 thesis credits

Environmental chemistry focuses on the chemical processes influencing the composition and chemical speciation of natural systems (air, water and soils), the chemical fate and mobility of contaminants in the environment, chemical processes that affect the toxicity and bioavailability of contaminants, and chemical aspects of contaminant remediation and pollution prevention. The common link is a focus on the underlying chemical structure, reactivity and mechanisms that dictate the extent and rates of environmentally important chemical reactions. Environmental chemistry is a challenging field, requiring core training in physical, analytical, organic and inorganic chemistry, and an understanding of how these disciplines can be applied to complex environmental systems. It also provides a quantitative and fundamental approach to understanding the processes that influence the quality of the environment.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers B.S. and M.S. via concentrations under the chemistry degree. The program provides education and research opportunities focused on the molecular scale aspects of environmental science. The program defines three tracks to meet a wide range of student interest: (i) atmospheric chemistry, (ii) aqueous/environmental geochemistry, and (iii) environmental toxicology and contaminant fate. Students may also design a custom focus area, subject to approval by their advisory committee.

Our faculty are involved in a wide range of projects from field studies of chemical transformation and transport, to laboratory and modeling studies of the basic mechanisms of environmental reactions, to the development of novel chemistry useful in contaminant remediation. The program is centered in the Reichardt Building on the Fairbanks campus that houses stat-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and computer facilities to support education and research activities. Located in Interior Alaska, UAF is home to numerous research institutes and center that focus on Arctic science and engineering and provide great opportunities for collaboration and cross-disciplinary studies focused on the chemistry of polar and sub-Arctic systems.

The Ph.D. program in environmental chemistry provides advanced training in the concepts and methods of molecular environmental sciences with the expectation that Ph.D. recipients will be acknowledged as experts in their particular topic of study. This is accomplished primarily through the Ph.D. dissertation, which is a body of independent research that presents new findings on forefront topics related to molecular processes in the environment. The Ph.D. in environmental chemistry prepares students for careers in academia or the public and private research sectors. Graduate students in the environmental chemistry program are typically supported through teaching and research assistantships or fellowships. Students interested in a M.S. degree focusing on environmental chemical problems should see the M.S. Chemistry with concentration in Environmental Chemistry program.

Ph.D. Degree

  1. Complete the following admission requirements
    1. Submit GRE General Test scores
    2. If English is not your native language, submit scores from both the Test of Spoken English and the Test of Written English, as well as TOEFL scores. Requests, including justification, for exceptions to this requirement should be made to the chair of the department.
  2. Complete the general university requirements.
  3. Complete the Ph.D. degree requirements.
  4. Complete three of the following:
    CHEM F605--Aquatic Chemistry--3 credits
    CHEM F606--Atmospheric Chemistry--3 credits
    CHEM F631--Environmental Fate and Transport--3 credits
    CHEM F655--Environmental Toxicology--3 credits
  5. Complete two seminar courses.
    CHEM F691--Research Presentation Techniques--1 credit
    CHEM F692--Seminar--1 credit
  6. Complete approved electives*--3-6 credits
  7. Complete a thesis--18 credits
  8. Minimum credits required--32 credits

* Approved electives are specified by the student’s committee. The following tracks are defined as a guide. Within these tracks students will be expected to complete as part of the core and electives:

  1. Atmospheric Chemistry: CHEM F601, CHEM F605, CHEM F606 and CHEM F631
  2. Aqueous/Environmental Geochemistry: CHEM F605, CHEM F606 or CHEM F631, GEOS F618 and CHEM F609/GEOS F633.
  3. Environmental Toxicology and Contaminant Fate: CHEM F605 or CHEM F606, CHEM F631 and CHEM F655

A customized focus area may be developed based on an appropriate sequence of core and elective courses, subject to approval by the student’s advisory committee.

See Biochemistry and Neuroscience.

See Chemistry.