Earth and Planetary Sciences

Earth and Planetary Sciences encompass a broad range of science disciplines, technology, and applications to environmental and economic endeavors. Studies of the Earth involve students in the development and application of new tools and technologies such as space probes and sophisticated instruments, as well as field work in remote and challenging settings.  Department Website

These are intellectually exciting times for the Earth and planetary sciences, which are of unprecedented importance to contemporary society. Our environment is increasingly subject to stresses placed upon it. As never before, we must understand the consequences of human activities for the Earth’s atmosphere, the oceans, the solid Earth, and the organisms that live on it. Exploring for, extracting, and conserving natural resources are vital to the global political economy. We must mitigate the ill effects of earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and severe weather by learning to predict their time and place.

Because the Earth’s natural systems (atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, solid earth) are interconnected, the training of Earth scientists broadly spans the boundaries between biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, mathematics, and the Earth sciences themselves. This intellectual breadth is not always possible to acquire in a “pure” science program. The department trains students rigorously in the basic sciences, typically in the same foundational courses as students in Astrophysics, Chemistry, Engineering Sciences, and Physics. These foundational courses are followed by upper-level courses that focus on disciplines within Earth and planetary science. Within the EPS department students may focus on geological science, environmental geoscience, solid earth geophysics, geochemistry, geobiology, atmospheric and ocean science, and planetary science.  

Alternatively, many students choose to take courses across these disciplines.