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Office of Dean - College of Arts & Sciences
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg PA 17257
(717) 477-1151

Department of Biology

Franklin Science Center
142 Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA
(717) 477-1401
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1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1371

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Shippensburg University
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Shippensburg, PA 17257
Phone: (717) 477-1148
Fax: (717) 477-4016

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Ecology Environmental Biology

Ecologists study a tremendous variety of organisms and environments from microorganisms in the soil or a puddle of water to plants and animals in a forest or ocean.

What is ecology?

Ecology is the study of the interactions between living organisms and their environment. These interactions, in turn, affect the distribution and abundance of organisms.  Since human activity often has a detrimental impact on the natural world, ecologists are often involved in identifying and finding solutions to environmental problems.

The Ecology and Environmental Biology Concentration

Students in the biology program at Shippensburg University can choose to concentrate in Ecology and Environmental Biology (EEB). Students in the EEB concentration earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. EEB students can take a variety of courses dealing with ecology and the environment. In addition, students in the EEB concentration must complete either an internship or a faculty sponsored independent research project.

What kind of courses will I take?

All biology majors must complete courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and math. You will be required to take biology courses that provide you with a broad background in topics such as physiology, genetics, evolution, and cellular biology in addition to ecology and the environment. You will also need two years of chemistry, one year of physics, and math courses in statistics and calculus. Some of the ecological/environmental courses available include Field Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, Invertebrate Zoology, Animal Behavior, Ecology, Comparative Anatomy, Herpetology, Biota of Florida, Hydrobiology, Conservation Biology, Field Botany and Plant Taxonomy, Algae and Aquatic Plants, Aquatic Entomology, Field Research Techniques, Wetland Ecology, Microbial Ecology, Comparative Animal Physiology, Evolutionary Ecology, and Ecosystems Ecology.

What can I do with this degree?

There is a growing need to understand the natural world and manage our impact on it. This need has resulted in a growth in demand and job opportunities for people with ecological/environmental backgrounds. Employment opportunities are predicted to grow substantially in the near future. Numerous job opportunities now exist in research, resource management, and education. Careers in ecology exist for all levels of education and experience. In most cases, salary and level of responsibility increase with education and experience. Shippensburg University graduates have been successful at finding employment with state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, private consulting firms, and schools. Many go on to graduate schools to receive advanced degrees.

Potential careers for students with an interest in ecology and the environment include:

  • Research Technician
  • Park Naturalist
  • Outdoor Educator
  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Forester
  • Environmental Consultant
  • College Professor
  • Entomologist
  • Water Quality Control Technician
  • Environmental Planner
  • Teacher
  • Natural Resource Manager
  • Field Ecologist
  • Researcher
  • Environmental Impact Analyst
  • Toxicologist
  • Museum or Zoo Curator
  • Conservation Biologist
  • Fisheries Biologist

Marine Science Consortium

Shippensburg University is a charter member of the Marine Science Consortium, which operates a field station at Wallops Island, Virginia. Students may take courses during the summer at Wallops Island for credit at Shippensburg University. Four three-week sessions are offered each summer. Offerings include: Introduction to Oceanography, Marine Biology, Marine Invertebrates, Marine Botany, Marine Ecology, Marine Ichthyology, Ornithology, Behavior of Marine Organisms, Ecology of Marine Plankton, Management of Wetland Wildlife, Marine Microbiology, and other topics.  For more information go to www.msconsortium.org

Opportunities for student research

Students at Shippensburg University frequently conduct independent research projects under the supervision of a biology faculty member (and receive college credit for their work). Students often present the results of their research at regional scientific conferences. Facilities on campus for research include a vertebrate museum, herbarium, environmental chambers, a greenhouse, research laboratories, a computer laboratory, a scanning electron microscope, and an animal housing facility. A stream and pond are located on the campus. Field research is facilitated by the university's close proximity to the Michaux and Tuscarora State Forests, Pine Grove Furnace, Caledonia and Colonel Denning State Parks, and King's Gap Environmental Education and Training Center. Shippensburg's unique location near two major river drainages (located in the Susquehanna River drainage, bordering the Potomac River drainage) makes it an ideal place for aquatic studies. Nearby agricultural lands provide sites for agricultural/environmental studies, including research on integrated pest management.

Internship opportunities

Students can obtain "real world" experience and college credit through internship experiences. Among the state agencies that provide internships are the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania State Museum, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Internship opportunities also exist with local and regional nonprofit groups and with private businesses.Internships may be completed during the academic year or summer months.

Why attend Shippensburg University?

Class sizes are small at Shippensburg University, often allowing professors to provide students with individual attention. Laboratory sessions for biology classes usually have from 14 to 20 students per session. Lectures and laboratories are taught by university professors; not by graduate students. The close proximity of Shippensburg University to many natural habitats means that many ecological/environmental course laboratory sessions are spent outdoors and students are learning about ecology through a "hands-on. / inquiry-based" approach. Many professors involve students in joint research activities. This all adds up to a high quality education for our students. Shippensburg University has been recognized nationally as one of the top regional universities.

Where can I get more information on the EEB program at Shippensburg?

For more information contact:

Department of Biology
Franklin Science Center 142
Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257-2299
E-mail:  biology@ship.edu