Drexel expands earth sciences department

People are buzzing about BEES — Drexel’s new department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science. The department promotes an interdisciplinary, science-based approach to studying everything from organisms to ecosystems.

The BEES program builds on offerings currently housed in the university’s biology department, as well as on the resources of the Academy of Natural Sciences, which entered a unique academic affiliation with Drexel last fall. David Velinsky, currently vice president for environmental research at the Academy, will be chairman of BEES.

The new undergraduate program will emphasize hands-on learning, starting even before freshman orientation. Students entering this fall will spend a week at the Barnegat Bay Field Station in New Jersey. The 180-acre site offers diverse coastal and forest habitats where students will work on projects from turtle ecology to the effect of global warming on wetlands.

“After the pre-term fieldwork at Barnegat Bay,” Velinsky said, “our students will continue their experiential learning for the rest of their academic careers at Drexel through basic and applied research and opportunities to work in field stations in the U.S. and abroad.”

The Academy will provide expanded opportunities for co-op placement in a variety of roles, departments and community outreach programs.

BEES will offer a minor in ecology; it will also host both master’s and doctoral degree programs in environmental science.

Biology abroad

The collaboration between Drexel and the Academy will also greatly expand fieldwork opportunities for students. Drexel currently has sites in Patagonia, Costa Rica and Bioko Island in West Africa. The Academy’s participation will add sites in Upper Mongolia, Jamaica and Arctic regions of Canada.

The undergraduate program will offer four concentrations:

Biodiversity and Evolution

Earth Science

Ecology and Conservation

Environmental Science

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