Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program

Strategic Plan

Introduction

The original 2002 mission of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences PhD Program (hereafter “the program”) was to meet local, state and national needs for outstanding, broadly-trained graduates in the environmental sciences who will assume positions of responsibility in industry, government, and non-government organizations. Alumni of the program hold positions as faculty members and research associates, industrial researchers, environmental specialists and consultants, and governmental scientists.  About one-third of graduates have remained in Ohio, contributing to local and state economies, while the others have moved on to opportunities outside of Ohio. 

The program recognizes five areas of excellence (1) Environmental Biology (2) Environmental Earth Sciences (3) Environmental Chemistry (4) Environmental Complexity and (5) Environmental Physics.  An emerging strength that crosses these boundaries is in “The Science of Global Change.” Examples of research include studies of the causes and consequences of biological invasions, the response of individuals, species, populations and ecosystems to climate shifts and other global changes, understanding and modeling patterns and movements of abiotic and biotic entities in the environment, and strategies for the remediation of natural and anthropogenic disturbances.  Other examples include reservoir and hydrological modeling, optimization of carbon sequestration, biogeochemical cycling in freshwater and marine systems, mathematical and statistical approaches to deciphering large data sets and understanding long term data trends, landscape and conservation ecology, and environmental and human health effects of pollutant exposures. 

Full program faculty members now number ~50.  Faculty members are housed in several departments, including Biological Sciences, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Statistics, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  Numerous adjunct faculty members from institutions in the region and from Ohio and beyond round out the total program faculty membership.

In the program, students are exposed to the environmental sciences from a variety of perspectives through a choice of required core courses, including a course in statistical modeling of data, and advanced electives in their areas of emphasis.  Course requirements are typically accomplished in the first two years.  Students then do more specialized dissertation research that is enriched by the interdisciplinary exposure they have received in their coursework and from meetings with their dissertation committee, and their program is capped by the successful defense of their dissertation. The curriculum has been revised twice since the inception of the program in response to changing needs and demographics, to concerns from students and faculty, and to the quarter-to-semester conversion.

With the recent external review and changing foci in the program, the time has come to outline a new vision for the future of the program and the creation of a strategic plan.

Vision Statement

The Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences PhD Program at Wright State University will be internationally-recognized for its commitment to scholarly excellence in the complex field of the environmental sciences.        

Mission Statement

The mission of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences PhD Program at Wright State University is to provide an internationally-recognized program of coursework and research experiences that enables a diverse student body to become leaders in research, education and service directed towards understanding and solving environmental challenges.

Goals

  1.  Build and strengthen faculty resources
    • Ensure that faculty across departments are given appropriate promotion and tenure credit in a codified way for contribution to teaching and service in the program
    • Implement hiring plan to support a research cluster in the Science of Global Change that would include positions in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, Biological Sciences and other departments; explore other emerging areas of strength
    • Seek ways to enhance recruitment of diverse, student-centered faculty who will associate with the program
    • Provide incentives for faculty to train Ph.D. students through enhanced recognition and financial incentives
    • Maintain a voice in university and departmental space and resource allocations for program faculty
    • Encourage the use of shared facilities designed to support research
  2. Build and strengthen student resources
    • Enhance recruiting activities to ensure the acceptance of at least 5 high-quality students per academic year
    • Market the program to a wide audience by increasing presence in the media through news releases, through updating online materials and through an active presence in social media
    • Continue to support and retain a diverse student body
    • Work to ensure access to appropriate office and laboratory space for all students
    • Encourage the increased commitment of fellowship and GTA positions to program students
    • Raise program visibility by further developing Pi Epsilon – the National Environmental Sciences Honor Society
    • Develop exchange programs with other universities (national and international).
    • Support and enhance travel opportunities and research scholarships
  3. Strengthen inter-departmental interactions within the program
    • Provide community-building and networking opportunities for students and faculty in the program
    • Provide networking opportunities for current students and faculty with program alumni
    • Encourage broader participation in activities such as the Carmichael Lecture in Environmental Sciences, defense seminars, and the annual Fall Social 
    • Develop program symposium in Global Change Research to highlight current and emerging areas of strength.
  4. Increase external funding
    • Provide training opportunities and incentives for faculty and students to submit grant proposals
    • Increase investment in human capital responsible for collaborative scholarship and extramural support through appropriate incentives, recruitment, retention and professional development.
    • Work with Advancement to integrate fund-raising initiatives and to raise priority funds for students in the Environmental Sciences PhD program
    • Explore opportunities for multi-investigator research and training grants
    • Encourage alumni involvement in program development and support
    • Improve alumni relationships through newsletters, invitations to functions, internet presence and social media.
  5. Grow collaborative partnerships and community engagement
    • Provide positive environment and incentives for faculty development and collaboration
    • Continue to foster partnerships with external stakeholders in the region (e.g. Wright Patterson Air Force Base, US EPA, and outside of Ohio (e.g., National Laboratories, Smithsonian Institution)
    • Encourage and support increased participation of faculty and students in community service and leadership.
    • Encourage faculty to be on Speakers Bureau and to be participate in regional environmental events on behalf of the program.
    • Better market the accomplishments of program faculty and students to a wide audience.
    • Establish an external advisory board of leaders in academia, industry, non-profit and government organizations