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Department of Environmental Biology
On Campus & in the Field

The center of activity for environmental and forest biology is Illick Hall, with laboratories, classrooms, growth chambers, and equipment in a modern building in which 8,000 square meters of working space is available for graduate study and research. Laboratories, many of them temperature controlled, are provided for study and research in plant development, physiology, tissue culture, molecular biology, biochemistry and toxicology, ecology and animal behavior. An herbarium, mycological collections, insect and other invertebrate collections, and the Roosevelt Wild Life Collection of vertebrates are maintained as resources for the academic program. Eight rooftop glasshouse units are important to the full array of interests in plant science and plant-animal interactions. An important catalyst for graduate studies is the Roosevelt Wild Life Station, which helps to focus teaching, research and outreach in field studies.

Students and faculty have access to a variety of sophisticated instrumentation; a computer center and many computer clusters; diverse analytical equipment and measuring devices, including automated DNA sequencer; gas-liquid chromatography; and comprehensive analytical expertise. The N.C. Brown Center for Ultrastructure Studies offers coursework and research in scanning and transmission electron microscopy.

Supportive to the program are the academic resources and courses at Syracuse University, SUNY’s Upstate Medical University and the several campus facilities described elsewhere in this catalog. Our students also participate in courses and utilize faculty and facilities at Cornell University and several SUNY campuses in cooperative exchanges.

Excellent field sites and facilities are available for research in all aspects of the program. In addition to the College’s several campuses and field stations that offer a broad diversity of forest types, sites and conditions, there are New York state Department of Environmental Conservation lands, the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains and the transition zones near Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake and Cicero Swamp. These areas offer a variety of habitat diversity from aquatic, wetland and terrestrial zones. The ponds, streams and lakes in Central New York and the St. Lawrence River are regularly used by graduate students in aquatic ecology, fisheries biology and ecosystem science. Faculty and students have access to a broad array of boats, motors, nets and sophisticated field sampling instrumentation.

Additional academic facilities enhancing the graduate program include:

  • Adirondack Ecological Center
  • Roosevelt Wild Life Station

Further academic advantages stem from the urban setting of the Syracuse campus. Nearby Onondaga Lake serves as a focus for many research and teaching activities. The greater Syracuse area provides a convenient laboratory for studies basic to urban ecology: urban wildlife, the conservation of natural areas, greenspace maintenance, the ecological restoration of waste beds and other badly degraded lands and waters, and the detoxification of pollutants. Disposal of industrial and human wastes requires deeper understanding of the role of plants, animals and microorganisms in the biodegradation of organic matter. The conversion of organic materials into energy (biofuels), into additives for plant growth, or into protein feeds for domestic animals are stimulating topics.