Programs and degrees in environmental biology are based on sciences that relate to the environment. This is considered a liberal science so that students can explore a range of topics that pertain to their main interest. The first year or two of study consist of beginner courses such as introduction to this field and chemistry. During the later years of study the student normally has the choice to take courses that are more specialized, relating to the students main areas of interest.
Environmental biology programs are available at all levels; both undergraduate and postgraduate. Undergraduate environmental classes cover more general topics and do not typically have a research element. This is all about learning laboratory techniques, field techniques and gaining knowledge in environmental biology. Graduate courses typically focus on research with graduate students taking on some teaching roles in the university. Students may have projects that are based in the industry or government, or projects that are conducted solely at the school.
Several different types of environmental biology courses typically required for completion of the program include ecology and the environment, biology, ecology, genetics, developmental cell biology, immunobiology, biological physics, synaptic transmission, science and society, neurodisorders, virology, genomics, animal behavior, science pedagogy, national science policy and more. The majority of these courses will also have associated labs which enable student to learn hands on science and apply what is found in environmental biology notes to the real world. There are a range of textbooks used in these courses, depending on the specific topic. A few recommended books include Practical Statistics for Environmental and Biological Scientists written by John Townend, Environmental Science: Principles, Connections and Solutions by Miller and Spoolman, Environmental Biology by Calver, Lymbery, McComb and Bamford and Environmental Biology for Engineers and Scientists by Vaccari, Strom and Alleman.
Research topics that are commonly found in this field include those in the area of development and neurobiology, ecology, evolution and behavior, genetics, global health and molecular and cellular biology. All of these topics draw on sciences found within environmental biology as well as other branches of science. Because environmental biology is a hybrid science there is much collaboration within the scientific fields.
Typical career paths for those that come out of the this field include positions within science and research, public health, science education, public policy, international relations and conservation. This overlap with policy is unique to this science as the different environments have different effects on biology. With so much concern over global warming there are many new positions opening up for students with training in environmental biology.
There are many different problems that are investigated within this scientific field. Issues vary depending on urban, rural or suburban environments. Course structures within universities offer some customization so students will have training specifically in their interests. An internship in environmental biology can also allow for hands on experience and study aboard programs offer study in environments not readily available to the student. This scientific field is a good choice for those students that like science but want to have a direct impact on where they live or other specific environments.