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Potsdam Prepared: Spring 2022 Updates


STEM is Environment

Jobs in the environmental sector are focused on prevention and remediation of environmental contaminations (e.g. acid mine drainage, industrial and domestic waste, radiogenic contaminations, etc.), conservation efforts, and understanding climate change. Environmental jobs are inherently multidisciplinary because environmental problems and solutions involve interactions of the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and cryosphere. Our strength and focus on interdisciplinary programs make SUNY Potsdam a great place to study all aspects of the environment. Some of the programs that contribute include:

  • Geology and Geographic Information Science (GIS): Geologists are uniquely qualified for jobs in the environmental sector because such jobs require knowledge about geochemical processes at the Earth’s surface, interactions between water, life and rocks, and an understanding of the processes that shape the Earth’s surface. Combine that with a degree in GIS, which allows scientists to track and monitor changes in environmental and graphically display those changes, and you will be ready for any environmental job.
  • Chemistry: Chemists are essential for studying the processes driving climate change and other pollution. They are also needed for testing for pollutants and designing new analytical methods.  Finally, many chemists now work on finding ways to produce safer materials without using dangerous chemicals or polluting the environment.
  • Anthropology: Archaeologists examine the relationship between people and the environment through time. Their datasets extend back thousands of years providing an accurate ecological baseline for modern conservation and restoration efforts.
  • Computer Science: Computer Scientists develop and maintain the environmental modeling and data collection software that are an essential aspect of environmental science.
  • Environmental Studies: Environmental Studies graduates contribute across a wide set of careers from environmental management and forestry with the Department of Environmental Conservation to environmental consulting and policy making.
  • Mathematics: Mathematical modelling is applied to problems like identifying changes in water supply in an aquifer.  Mathematicians are often called upon to participate in interdisciplinary teams involved in addressing environmental problems and climate change. Their experience in logical thinking and problem solving, in addition to data analysis, make them indispensable.  
  • Physics: Physicists apply physical principles to environmental problems. They work on creating new materials, photovoltaic systems, and products that are better for the environment. They also work on remote sensing equipment, energy conservation measures, atmospheric models, and other issues related to the environment.
  • Biology: Environmental Biologists use the standard tools of biology (ecology, genetics, and physiology) to monitor and examine organisms in nature or controlled lab studies to see if natural and human-produced pollutants are harming those organisms, which are sentinels in the environment warning us of the potential harm to people. They also study direct and indirect changes in microbes, plants, and animals on land or in the waters due to climate change.

Geology students learn about the movement and distribution of water in Geomorphology and Hydrology courses offered in the Geology Department at SUNY Potsdam. Such knowledge prepares geologists to solve problems related to water pollution, water availability and storage, and flooding.

SUNY Potsdam students work closely with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to get first-hand experience dealing with wildlife and conservation efforts.

Field work can be an important component of jobs in the environmental sector. At SUNY Potsdam STEM classes take students out outside for labs and field trips. These experiences give students the field experience and skills they need.