e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Department Name Change Acknowledges 21st Century Environmental Needs


SUNY ESF's largest academic department has changed its name to Environmental Biology. Formerly known as the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, the name change better recognizes the scope and impact of the academic unit.

"Our new name, Environmental Biology, better reflects our longstanding and still applicable signature 'molecules to ecosystems' moniker, as well as the breadth and expertise of our current faculty, our exemplary research programs, and the scope of our department's offerings," said Dr. Melissa Fierke, department chair. "It sets us apart from traditional biology departments and highlights ESF's preeminent mission."

The decision to change the name was made after more than a year of meetings, surveys, and discussions with stakeholders and constituents.

"The landscape of higher education is more competitive now than ever before," said ESF President Joanie Mahoney. "Colleges - and academic departments - are changing and refocusing their identity, missions, and strategic visions to better serve students, prospective students, partners, and other external constituencies. The transition to Environmental Biology is a reflection of society's growing support for leveraging science to protect the environment."

The departmental profile for Fall 2020 included 32 faculty, 16 Professors (including two Distinguished Professors, three Distinguished Teaching Professors, and one Endowed Professor), nine Associate Professors, six Assistant Professors, one Senior Research Associate, five Instructional Support positions, three Office Assistants, 614 undergraduate students, and 125 graduate students.

The Department of Environmental Biology offers undergraduate programs in aquatics and fisheries science, biotechnology, conservation biology, environmental biology, forest health, and wildlife science.

Graduate areas include ecology and evolution, conservation biology, aquatic and fisheries science, wildlife ecology and management, mycology and forest pathology, plant science, environmental biotechnology, entomology, chemical ecology, molecular biology and ecology, microbiology, and Indigenous Peoples and the environment.

The department has a long and distinguished history at ESF. Founded in 1913 as the Department of Forest Zoology and Entomology, it was split into two separate departments (forest zoology and forest entomology) with the department of forest botany and pathology added a year later. In 1952, the three departments were organized under the Biological Services Division, and in 1971, the College's biology departments were merged into the School of Biology, Chemistry and Ecology. In September 1977, the named changed to the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology (EFB).