Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences (MEES)

University of Maryland System-wide Program

Diana Owen, UMBC Graduate Program Director

BELAS, ROBERT (Marine Biotechnology), Ph.D., University of Maryland at College Park; Microbial genetics
BUSH, C. ALLEN, (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; Environmental molecular biology, glycoprotein and polysaccharide structure determination using NMR and three-dimensional molecular dynamics
CRONIN, THOMAS W. (Biological Sciences), Ph.D., Duke University; Vision science, visual ecology of marine animals
LACOURSE, WILLIAM (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Ph.D., Northeastern University; Analytical chemistry
MILLER, ANDREW J. (Geography and Environmental Systems), Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University; Hydrology, geomorphology, water resources, environmental problems
REED, BRIAN E. (Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering), Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo; Sorption of organics/inorganics, surface chemistry, separation processes, water and wastewater treatment
SOWERS, KEVIN (Marine Biotechnology), Ph.D., Virginia Tech; Anaerobic Microbiology, bioremediation, bioenergy
VAKHARIA, VIKRAM (Marine Biotechnology), Ph.D., University of Kansas; Pathobiology, Biomolecular and Metabolic Engineering
WELTY, CLAIRE (Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering), Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Groundwater flow and transport, water resource systems analysis, watershed hydrology
ZOHAR, Yonathan (Marine Biotechnology), Ph.D., University of Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris; Fish reproductive endocrinology, aquaculture

Associate Professors
ELLIS, ERLE (Geography and Environmental Systems), Ph.D., Cornell University; Bio-geochemistry, landscape ecology, managed ecosystems
GHOSH, UPAL (Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering), Ph.D., University at Buffalo, 1998. Fate and transport of toxic organic compounds in the environment
OMLAND, KEVIN (Biological Sciences), Ph.D., State University of New York, Albany; Avian evolution, evolution of plumage and coloration
LEIPS, JEFFERY (Biological Sciences), Ph.D., Florida State University; Evolution of life history traits, ecological genetics
SCHREIER, HAROLD (Marine Biotechnology and Biological Sciences), Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University; Microbial molecular genetics and physiology
SPARLING, LYNN (Physics), Ph.D., University of Texas; Atmospheric physics, dynamics, modeling
SWAN, CHRISTOPHER (Geography and Environmental Systems), Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park; Stream ecology

Assistant Professors
LEWIS, LAURA R. (Geography and Environmental Systems), Ph.D., University of California, Davis; Bio-geography of crop species, particularly those of African origin
SAITO, KEIKO (Marine Biotechnology), Ph.D., Osaka City University, Japan; Aquatic Microbial Ecology and Aquacultural Microbiology

Degrees Offered

M.S., Ph.D.

Program Description

The goal of the MEES program is to train students with career interests in some aspect of environmental science involving geosciences, ecosciences and cellular/molecular sciences. The program is university system-wide and interdisciplinary, allowing students to use facilities and interact with faculty of the entire university system to plan a program best suited to their particular interests. Students may take courses anywhere in the University System of Maryland and may organize advisory and examining committees with faculty from one or more institutions, including the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Although the program is system-wide, students enroll at one of the degree-granting campuses most appropriate to their research interests and professional goals. The MEES program leads to both the master's and the doctoral degrees. The primary focus of both degrees is original research directed by a research advisor and overseen by a committee knowledgeable in the student's area of specialization.

Program Specialties

Specialty areas depend on faculty expertise. Typical strengths at UMBC include environmental and molecular biology, marine biotechnology, aquatic ecology, landscape ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, bio-geochemistry, geographic information systems, atmospheric science and environmental engineering.

Program Admission and Degree Requirements

In addition to the application materials required by the Graduate School, applicants must include a statement (about one typewritten page) describing their interests in environmental sciences and reasons for pursuing a master's or doctorate in MEES. The MEES program committee will use this information to select an academic advisor from the MEES faculty. An applicant meeting minimum requirements will be admitted to the MEES program only after an academic advisor has been identified. In most cases, the academic advisor also will become the student's research advisor, but only if the arrangement is mutually agreeable. Before applying, prospective students should correspond directly with MEES faculty whose research interests are close to their own.

Usually faculty members will agree to serve as academic advisors only if their research interests are similar to those of their advisees. Applicants should identify in the application the potential advisor(s) with whom they have corresponded. All original application documents must be submitted directly to the Graduate School, not the graduate program.

More information about the MEES program may be obtained from Janet Rutledge, UMBC MEES Acting Graduate Program Director, Graduate School, Administration Building, UMBC, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250. Each student�s course program is planned under the direction of an academic advisor and an advisory committee appointed during the student�s first semester. Before beginning full-time work on a research project, each student must complete the course requirements for the chosen area of concentration All prerequisites for admission must be completed in the first year of graduate study. Courses are selected from a list of offerings at UMBC; University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB); and other campuses approved by the MEES program committee. These specific MEES course requirements are in addition to any other general course requirements described elsewhere in the catalog. Students pursuing the master�s degree must pass a preliminary examination, which consists of defending a research prospectus before an examining committee composed of the research advisor and at least two other graduate faculty. This exam must be scheduled by the end of the third semester. A final oral examination on the completed research thesis is administered by a committee of four or more graduate faculty.

A doctoral student must pass a qualifying examination administered by the advisory committee. This exam, which is based upon any material relevant to the chosen areas of concentration, must be scheduled by the third semester. Further details on requirements for the master's and doctoral degrees can be obtained by consulting the UMBC MEES program committee and by referring to general degree requirements discussed elsewhere in this catalog. Additional information is available at

Facilities and Special Resources

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science maintains several field stations on the Chesapeake Bay and in Western Maryland. UMBC has excellent electron microscope facilities and extensive animal care facilities, as well as a greenhouse. The Department of Marine Biotechnology is based at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore�s inner harbor. Faculty and students have access to extensive research facilities, including an 18,000 square-foot, fully-contained, recirculating marine aquaculture facility, a versatile high-volume fermentation facility, and a wide assortment of advanced molecular and biotechnology instrumentation. The Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE), the Department of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering and the field offices of the NSF-funded Baltimore Ecosystem Study and related USDA Forest Service personnel are co-located in the Technology Research Center (TRC) at UMBC. These entities jointly house a Spatial Analysis Laboratory and multiple wet laboratories for water quality, soil and sediment analysis. The Spatial Analysis Laboratory equipment includes high-end servers, storage devices, GIS workstations, one large-format plotter and one large format scanner all linked with a high- speed network. The Department of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering at UMBC has 3000 sq. ft. of laboratory space equipped with fume hoods, analytical grade water, and chemical resistant countertops. Analytical capabilities include state of the art gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers, and spectrophotometers for the measurement of toxic organic compounds and metals in water, soil, and tissue matrices. Students studying remote sensing have access to state of the art technologies in the Department of Physics laboratories.

UMBC is conveniently located with respect to a variety of terrestrial, freshwater and marine/estuarine habitats and is near a large number of private, state and national research institutions, including the offices of NSF, NOAA and NIH; the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; the USDA Agricultural Research Service laboratories; the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the EPA Mid- Atlantic Assessment Program. The MD-DE-DC District Office of the U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Division is based in UMBC�s Research Park on campus.

Financial Assistance

A number of research assistantships are available to highly qualified candidates.


Students in the MEES program take approved courses from a diversity of departments at UMBC, UMCP, UMB and other institutions of the University System of Maryland. Students conducting research for the master's or doctorate enroll in one of the following:

MEES 799
Master's Thesis Research [2-9]
Master's thesis research under the direction of a UMBC MEES faculty member. Note: Six credit hours are required for the master's degree.

MEES 898
Pre-Candidacy Doctoral Research [3-9]
Research on doctoral dissertation conducted under the direction of a faculty advisor before candidacy.

MEES 899
Doctoral Dissertation Research [9]
Doctoral dissertation research under the direction of a UMBC MEES faculty member. Note: A minimum of 18 credit hours is required for the doctorate.