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Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program


The mission of the Doctor of Philosophy program in Environmental Sciences is to meet local, state and national needs for outstanding, interdisciplinary-trained graduates who will assume positions of responsibility in industry, government, and non-government organizations. The Environmental Sciences Ph.D. program is designed to develop environmental scientists who can function as researchers or high-level managers. This degree is awarded for demonstrated scholarly excellence in study and research that provides a significant contribution to the complex field of the environmental sciences.

This program is unique in focus, building on a core group of program faculty with recognized expertise in the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geological Sciences, Physics, Pharmacology/Toxicology and Mathematics and Statistics. This interdisciplinary Ph.D. program consists of three areas of excellence: 1) Environmental Biology: Genes, Organisms and Ecosystems, 2) Environmental Earth Sciences and 3) Environmental Chemistry. These areas of excellence will provide students with high-demand environmental skills that are interdisciplinary-based yet well grounded in more traditional areas of environmental biology, chemistry, toxicology, geophysics and hydrogeology.

For updated information on the Environmental Sciences Ph.D., please call the Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program Office at (937) 775-3273, or consult our Web site at: www.wright.edu/academics/envsci/


Entrance Requirements

A student will be admitted to the Environmental Sciences Ph.D. program with a baccalaureate degree or a master’s degree from a supporting discipline (e.g., biology, chemistry, geology, or physics); satisfaction of the admission requirements as set forth by the Graduate School; and a record that indicates potential for a career in environmental sciences, as evaluated by the program’s Admissions Committee (consisting of program faculty from participating departments). Students should enter the program with knowledge of one of the supporting sciences and having successfully completed biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, statistics, and calculus. If a student is deficient in one of these areas, the Admissions Committee may recommend the undergraduate courses that should be completed during the first year. Determining deficiencies will be dependent on the student’s area of focus.

Admitted students will be expected to demonstrate strong academic ability. Submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores is required. International students must have a TOEFL score of at least 600/250 computer and 100 internet/6.5 IELTS.

Degree Requirements

Students are asked to master a series of core courses, advanced content courses, seminars, and laboratory rotations (see Curriculum below). These serve as an interdisciplinary base for the development of dissertation research. The institution awards the degree when the student satisfactorily completes the required work.

Waiver of Program Requirements

Students may petition to be exempted from all or part of the core curriculum, usually by scoring a passing grade on an appropriate proficiency examination. Students with a master’s degree in a relevant field of study will be exempted from appropriate course requirements and 45 credit hours. Students may also petition for waiver of credit for previous graduate courses taken in another accredited program. Advanced course credit of up to 12 credit hours may be waived providing (a) the grade attained in each course is a B or better, (b) the course was taken within four years of the actual waiver, and (c) the course relates to the area of concentration chosen in this program. Petitions for obtaining credit for laboratory experiences may be made, subject to the same credit hour limitations and time constraints as for courses.

Petitions for exemption or waiver should be submitted to the program director, who will make the final decision, and who may, if necessary, seek a recommendation from the Curriculum Committee.

Each student chooses a faculty member to guide and direct the dissertation research on a daily basis. In addition, a supervisory committee is formed to periodically review the student’s progress. The relationship between the student, the faculty advisor, and the committee is central to the program. The committee determines when the research may be considered complete and must approve the written dissertation, as well as the student’s public defense of it. The committee certifies to the program director the competency and achievement of the dissertation.


The program is a cooperative effort among departments within the College of Science and Mathematics and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Program faculty at Wright State reside in the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science and Engineering, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physics.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department

Michael Leffak, molecular genetic analysis of proteins and DNA involved in chromosome replication

Biological Sciences Department

James P. Amon, wetland ecology, wetland microbial ecology, bioremediation, phytoremediation, wetland restoration
Larry G. Arlian, medical entomology, immunoparasitology, physiology
Volker Bahn, determinants of species distribution and changes in distribution with changese in land use and climate
Donald Cipollini, Jr., plant physiological ecology, molecular and chemical ecology
David L. Goldstein, comparative physiology of osmoregulation, physiological ecology, ornithology
Barbara Hull, evaluating environmental toxicants using an invitro skin model
Dan E. Krane, molecular and genome evolution; human population substructuring
Jeff Peters, molecular ecology, phylogeography, behaviorial ecology, molecular evoluation
Thomas Rooney, plant community ecology, ungulate impacts on forest ecosystems, biodiversity loss
James R. Runkle, plant ecology, general ecology
John Stireman, insect ecology and evolutionary biology, community ecology, speciation phylo-genetics
Yvonne Vadeboncoeur, aquatic ecology, ecosystem ecology
Michele G. Wheatly, crustacean physiology, calcium transport

Chemistry Department

Rachel Aga, molecular dyanamics and Monte Carlo simulations
Roger K. Gilpin, Mead Endowed Chair of Environmental Sciences, analytical chemistry
Steven R. Higgins, environmental chemistry, surface-solute interactions, contaminant transport dynamics
Susan Lunsford, development of chemical sensors to detect biological toxins of interest
Audrey E. McGowin, analytical and environmental chemistry
Idana Pavel, physical chemistry and bionanotechnology
Paul G. Seybold (chair), physical and biophysical chemistry
Kenneth Turnbull, organic and bio-organic chemistry

Computer Science and Engineering Department

Michael Raymer, bioinformatics, proteomics, genomics and computational biology

Earth and Environmental Sciences Department

Abinash Agrawal, contaminant hydrogeology, site remediation
Christopher Barton, analysis and forecasting of nonlinear natural systems using the mathematics of complexity
Huntting W. Brown, environmental management, environmental law
Songlin Cheng, hydrogeochemistry, isotope hydrology, geographic information systems
David Dominic, clastic sedimentology, stratigraphy
Bryan Gregor, modeling the sedimentary cycle
Chad Hammerschmidt, aquatic biochemistry, trace metal cycling and contamination
Ernest C. Hauser, near surface geophysics, subsurface imaging
Robert W. Ritzi Jr., hydrogeology, hydrogeological modeling
Doyle Watts, seismic data acquisition and processing, astrogeology, remote sensing

Mathematics and Statistics Department

Chaocheng Huang, differential equations and its applications in geology, particle dynamics, fluid dynamics and composite materials
Thaddeus Tarpey, statistical issues with identifying placebo response, pet imaging

Medical Science

Richard Henderson, decompression sickness, cardiorespiratory resuscitation, breath chemistry

Pharmacology and Toxicology Department

David Cool, hypothalamic-pituitary-pancreas peptide hormone synthesis, processing, storage, secretion and function diseases
Jim McDougal, biologically based pharmacokinetic modeling of chemical interactions with skin
Marianna Morris, cardiovascular and endocrine toxicology
Courtney Sulentic, immunotoxicology

Physics Department

Brent Foy, mathematical modeling of biosystems
Allen Hunt, environmental geophysics
Sarah Tebbens, environmental geophysics
Doug Petkie, spectroscopy, chemical physics, remote sensing


John Flach, clastic semimentology, stratigraphy

Financial Assistance

Graduate assistantship and fellowship support is available to students on a competitive basis. Students awarded support are eligible for stipends and remission of tuition fees the first two years. The Fellowship is for $22,660(plus tuition remission) on a 12 month basis. The first year is a Research Assistantship (12 months), the second a Teaching Assistantship (12 months), and then your major professor supports you with their research funds for the remaining time of your Ph.D.

Students with financial assistantships must register as a full-time student each quarter (at least 12 credit hours of relevant graduate courses).

Course of Study

Foundation Courses Credit Hours
Earth Processes & Environmental Systems 3
Environmental Statistics 4
Risk Assessment & Comm. 4
Env. Bio.:Genes, Organisms, and Ecosystems 3
Complexity in Environmental Systems 4
Environmental Chemistry 3

Lab Rotation I 4
Lab Rotation II 4
Perspectives in Env. Sci. (3 qtrs) 3

Environmental & Research Ethics 2
(Plus one more of the following)
Environmental Policy & Regulation 3
Environmental Mgmt. & Economics 2
Hist. & Social Aspects of Environmentalism 3
Environmental Resource Sustainability 3

Total 36 or 37
Environmental Problem Solving (Capstone) 2
Independent Topics & Research 1-4
Advanced Electives 15
Internship Options 5
Advanced Electives 15 (Min)
Dissertation Research 45 (Min)

Total 135

Graduate School
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Voice: (937) 775-2976
Fax: (937) 775-2453
E-mail: wsugrad@wright.edu
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