Earth and Environmental Sciences

Administrative Information

Directors of Undergraduate Studies:
Prof. Sidney Hemming, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; 845-365-8417;;  557 Schermerhorn Extension
Prof. Terry Plank, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; 845-365-8410;; 557 Schermerhorn Extension

Senior Administrative Manager: Carol Mountain, 557 Schermerhorn Extension; 854-9705; 106 Geoscience, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; 845-365-8551;

Business Manager: Sally Odland, 106 Geoscience, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; 845-365-8633

Departmental Offices: 556-7 Schermerhorn; 854-4525;
106 Geoscience, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; 845-365-8550

Wallace S. Broecker
Mark A. Cane
Nicholas Christie-Blick
Joel E. Cohen (School of International and
Public Affairs)
Peter B. de Menocal (chair)
Hugh Ducklow
Peter Eisenberger (Earth Institute)
Göran Ekström
Steven L. Goldstein
Arnold L. Gordon
Kevin L. Griffin
Sidney R. Hemming
Peter B. Kelemen (associate chair)
Jerry F. McManus
William H. Menke
John C. Mutter
Paul E. Olsen
Stephanie L. Pfirman (Barnard)
Terry A. Plank
Lorenzo M. Polvani
G. Michael Purdy
Peter Schlosser
Christopher H. Scholz
Adam H. Sobel
Marc W. Spiegelman
Martin Stute (Barnard)
David Walker

Associate Professors
Mark H. Anders
Sonya Dyhrman
Arlene M. Fiore
Bärbel Hönisch
Meredith Nettles
Maria Tolstoy

Assistant Professor
Ryan Abernathey
Tiffany A. Shaw

Adjunct Professors
Geoffrey A. Abers
Robert F. Anderson
Roger N. Anderson
W. Roger Buck IV
Anthony D. Del Genio
John J. FlynnArthur L. Lerner-Lam
Douglas G. Martinson
Ronald L. Miller (Applied Physics and Math)
Mark A. Norell
Hsien Wang Ou
Dorothy M. Peteet
Walter C. Pitman III
Christopher Small
Taro Takahashi
Minfang Ting
Spahr C. Webb

Adjunct Associate Professors
Alessandra Giannini (School of International
and Public Affairs)
Lisa M. Goddard
Andrew Juhl
Joerg M. Schaefer
Gisela Winckler

James R. Cochran
Braddock Linsley
Maureen Raymo
Andreas M. Thurnherr
Christopher Zappa

The undergraduate major in earth and environmental sciences provides an understanding of the natural functioning of our planet and considers the consequences of human interactions with it. Our program for majors aims to convey an understanding of how the complex Earth System works at a level that encourages students to think creatively about the Earth System processes and how to address multidisciplinary environmental problems. The breadth of material covered provides an excellent background for those planning to enter the professions of law, business, diplomacy, public policy, teaching, journalism, etc. At the same time, the program provides sufficient depth so that our graduates are prepared for graduate school in one of the Earth sciences. The program can be adjusted to accommodate students with particular career goals in mind.

The department’s close affiliations with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the Earth Institute at Columbia (EI), and several departments within the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences afford opportunities for student participation in a wide variety of current research programs. Summer employment, research, and additional educational opportunities are available at Lamont and GISS. The department encourages majors to become involved in a research project by their junior year.

All majors and concentrators, when planning their programs of study, should regularly consult the directors of undergraduate studies and make themselves aware of the requirements for their particular program.

Programs of Study

Environmental Science Major

The environmental science major curriculum provides an introduction to a variety of fields of study relavant to the environment. Environmental science majors are required to take three semesters of introductory courses and to develop a grounding in basic physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Here, students are allowed some choice depending on interest. With this introduction to the earth’s environment and equipped with a knowledge of the basic sciences, students are prepared to choose a set of upper-level courses in consultation with an undergraduate adviser. All environmental science majors are required to complete a research project, providing a practical application of mastered course work. This research culminates in a senior thesis. The research and the thesis are usually done at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory with guidance from a faculty member or a research scientist. However, other options are also possible.

Environmental science majors have an option to complete the special concentration in environmental biology for environmental science majors.

Earth Science Major

The major in earth science follows a similar rationale but is designed to allow students to pursue particular fields of the Earth Sciences in greater depth. Compared with the Environmental Science major, one fewer introductory course is required, while one additional advanced course should be part of the plan of study. The Earth Science major also offers the possibility of in-depth field experience through a six- to eight-week geology summer field course, arrangements for which are made through another university.  The research and senior thesis capstone requirements are the same as for the environmental science major.  The geology summer field course may be used as an alternative means of fulfilling the capstone requirement in the earth science major.


The program for concentrators serves students who want more exposure to earth and environmental  science than is provided by introductory-level courses. The program aims to provide concentrators with experience in data analysis and a thorough introduction to the Earth's systems.

The concentrations in environmental science and in earth science are designed to give students an understanding of how the Earth works and an introduction to the methods used to investigate earth processes, including their capabilities and limitations. Concentrators often join the social professions (e.g., business, law, medicine, etc.) and take with them a strong scientific background. They take the same introductory courses as the majors, but fewer basic science and upper-level courses are required.

In addition to the environmental science and earth science concentrations, the department sponsors a special concentration which must be done in conjunction with the environmental biology major. Students should be aware that they must complete the environmental biology major in order to receive credit for the special concentration. There is also a special concentration in environmental biology for environmental science majors sponsored by the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology.

Departmental Honors

The Department of Earth and Environmental Science awards departmental honors to the major or majors in earth science or environmental science judged to have the best overall academic record. The award is accorded to no more than 10% of the graduating class, or one student in the case of a class smaller than 10. A grade point average of at least 3.6 in the major and a senior thesis or equivalent research of high quality are required. Students who wish to be considered should contact the director of undergraduate studies early in their senior year.


Fees charged partially cover the cost of nonreturnable items.