Master of Science in
Environmental Science and
Institute of Environmental Health
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA
OHSU Institute of Environmental Health believes preventative
medicine starts with a healthy environment.
Preventative medicine starts with a healthy environment. Human activities and the change in global climate are affecting environmental health and sustainability, causing serious problems for public health.
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Institute of Environmental Health (IEH) is working to develop scientific understanding that uncovers the links
between public health and environmental systems. We bring together an exceptional team to:
• Advance the understanding of contemporary ecosystems
• Anticipate their evolution under climate change and increasing human stresses
• Explore strategies to mitigate the impacts of environmental change on the public health
The OHSU Institute of Environmental Health includes a leading academic research division, and a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center:
Division of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems (EBS)
We conduct interdisciplinary research that cuts across the common boundaries between the environmental, biological, and health sciences. EBS offers MS and PhD degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) and in Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE).
Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction (CMOP)
CMOP is a multi-institutional National Science Foundation Science & Technology Center hosted at OHSU that is advancing the predictive science of coastal margin ecosystems. CMOP’s main study area is the intersection of the Columbia River with the coastal Pacific Ocean.
Environmental Science and Engineering
Master Degree Program
The Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) Master of Science (MS) curriculum provides an academic experience that prepares students for a range of careers in academic research, government agencies, industries, consulting firms, and non-profit organizations (e.g. the World Health Organization). The curriculum can also provide a foundation for related Ph.D. degrees.
Career emphases include:
• Water Quality Management
• Coastal oceanography
• Ecosystem modeling
Over the course of one year, students gain an interdisciplinary understanding of natural and engineered environmental systems, with emphasis on water, soils, sediments, and microbial communities. The program emphasizes fundamental concepts from science and engineering, including chemical equilibrium and kinetics, microbial genomics and proteomics, and computer modeling and simulation.
The ESE program includes three tracks of study: Environmental and Biomolecular Systems (EBS), Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE), and Estuary and Ocean Systems (EOS). Students in all tracks take core courses as well as a selection of elective courses for three academic terms (fall, winter, and spring). Students conduct a research internship in an IEH lab or with relevant companies and agencies for the fourth term (summer).
Upon completion of the program students will be equipped with:
• Conceptual knowledge and in-depth understanding of biogeochemical links within Earth systems in environmental and public health contexts, with a particular emphasis on prediction of the effects of a changing climate on river, estuary, and ocean systems.
• Technical know-how in using systems thinking to solve environmental and public health problems.
Environmental and Biomolecular Systems (EBS) Track
The EBS track is for students interested in a holistic view of the physical, chemical, and biological processes at the molecular, cellular and particle levels. Applications include
• Assessing environmental health effects
• Multiscale biogeochemistry
EBS 515 Environmental and Biomolecular History of the Earth
This course explores the origin and evolution of the environment, including physical, chemical and biological contributions and interactions. Topics are taught along a timeline from the origin of the Earth to present day, and includes the biological and chemical evolution of Earth; an introduction to metabolism and microbial energetics; effect of the environment on microbial interactions and evolution of higher organisms.
EBS 516 Metals in Environmental and Human Health
This course covers bioinorganic chemistry in environmental systems. Topics include oxidation-reduction cycles, metal speciation, receptors and uptake systems, micronutrient requirements and utilization, enzymology and distribution of enzymes in the environment. 4 credits
EBS 517 Environmental Systems and Human Health
This course addresses perturbations of Earth’s biogeochemical cycles by human activities, and the impacts of resulting environmental hazards on human health and natural
ecosystems. Lecture materials provide assessment of molecular to global scale processes in covering the tangible relationships between environmental degradation and human health. Student assignments confront current problems related to nitrogen pollution, climate change, and disease pressures.
Margo Haygood, Ph.D – Environmental Microbiology and Bacterial Physiology Holly Simon, Ph.D. – Microbial Ecology
Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) Track
The ESE track is for students who wish to focus their graduate study on the fate and transport of substances in the environment. Applications include:
• Remediation of contaminated soils, sediments, and groundwater
• Treatment of water and wastewater
• Disinfection of drinking water
• Nutrients in surface waters
EBS 510 Aquatic Chemistry
This course provides students with the advanced knowledge in water chemistry needed to understand aquatic systems. Concepts covered include: acid/base, ; pH; making activity corrections; numerical calculations; titration concepts as applied to natural systems; buffer intensity; dissolved CO2 chemistry; acidity and alkalinity in open CO2 systems; minerals and their role in controlling natural water chemistry; solubility characteristics of oxide and hydroxides; and redox chemistry in natural systems. Prerequisite: One year of physical chemistry
EBS 535 Chemistry of Organic Contaminants
An overview of the processes that determine the fate of organic substances in the environment and impact on human health. It covers pathways, mechanisms, and kinetics of volatilization, sorption, hydrolysis, oxidation, reduction, elimination, and conjugation; and the application to understanding the environmental fate and remediation of organic chemicals. Media
represented include reactor fluids, groundwater, surface water, rain, and fog. Both chemical (abiotic) and microbially-mediated (biotic) processes are included.
EBS 575 Chemical Transport Processes in Environmental Health
An introduction to chemical mass transport. Students will be introduced to the equations governing mass transport, aerobic biofilm reactors, particle aggregation and settling, dispersion and mass transport in rivers, porous media, and the atmosphere. Familiarity with multivariate calculus and differential equations will be helpful, but not required.
Estuary and Ocean Systems (EOS) Track
The EOS track is for students interested in a multidisciplinary approach to understanding rivers, estuaries, and marine systems. Applications include
• Coastal oceanography
• Ecosystem modeling
• Environmental microbiology
EBS 565 Estuary and Ocean Systems I
This course provides an introduction to marine systems over multiple scales, from cells to ocean basins. It covers marine biogeochemistry and climate-scale ocean circulation, while Estuaries and Ocean Systems II covers marine organisms and estuary-plume-scale circulation.
EBS 566 Estuary and Ocean Systems II
This course covers marine organisms and estuary-plume-scale circulation, including primary production and photosynthesis, secondary production, phytoplankton, bacteria, and archaea; benthic and pelagic habitats and organisms, fish and fisheries. Also studied are the biology of river plumes, estuarine ecology, and tools and techniques in biological oceanography. 4 credits
EBS 517 Environmental Systems and Human Health
This course addresses perturbations of Earth’s biogeochemical cycles by human activities, and the impacts of resulting environmental hazards on human health and natural ecosystems. Lecture materials provide assessment of molecular to global scale processes in covering the tangible relationships between environmental degradation and human health. Student assignments confront current problems related to nitrogen pollution, climate change, and disease pressures.
António Baptista, Ph.D – Ecosystem models & forecasts Margo Haygood, Ph.D – Marine biotechnology Joseph Needoba, Ph.D – Marine biogeochemistry Tawnya Peterson, Ph.D – Biological oceanography
Students must complete 45 credits with a cumulative GPA at or above 3.0 including: 12 Core Course credits, 16 elective credits, 6 Reading Group credits, 10 Internship credits, and 1 Ethics. Students must also write a report on their internship. Students attending full time can complete these degree requirements in one year.
Most students accepted into the ESE M.S. program have Bachelors (or equivalent) degrees in biology, chemistry, geoscience, physics, engineering, or related disciplines (e.g., computer science). Students can come after working as professionals, or after graduating from their undergraduate universities.
To apply, students should follow the instructions on the admissions page of our website at
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Applicants must provide scores for the general test portion of the GRE, unless: (i) the applicant already has a graduate degree from a U.S. university, or (ii) permission is given to substitute scores from the Medical College Aptitude Test (MCAT).
Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical Writing GRE scores of 153 (500 old scale), 148 (600 old scale) and 4.5 or above, respectively, will generally be considered acceptable for admission. Scores must be received directly from the Educational Testing Service and therefore must be
less than 5 years old.
GRE subject scores (e.g., chemistry, biochemistry, or biology) will be considered but are not required.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
All international applicants for whom English is not a native language must provide TOEFL scores, unless the applicant already has an undergraduate or graduate degree from a U.S. university. Most successful applicants have TOEFL scores of at least 550 (paper-based test), 250 (computer-based test), or 80 (internet-(computer-based test).
Applications are considered year-round, but prospective M.S. students are encouraged to apply by May 15th to start the following Fall quarter.
Total costs: $8593 per term, $34,720 in full.
Dr. Pierre Moenne Loccoz
Ph.D., Biophysics, l'Universite Pierre et Marie Curie
Research Focus: Proteins/Enzymes Structures and Functions
Dr. Michiko Nakano
Ph. D., Cell Biology, University of Tokyo Research Focus: Gene Regulation
Dr. Joseph Needoba
Ph.D., Botany, University of British Columbia
Research Focus: Marine Biogeochemistry
Dr. Tawnya Peterson
Ph.D., University of British Columbia Research Focus: Biological
Dr. Holly Simon
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison Research Focus: Microbial Ecology
Dr. Paul Tratnyek
Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines Research Focus: Environmental Organic Chemistry
Dr. Karen Watanabe
Assistant Professor Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley Research Focus: Modeling Metabolism
Dr. António Baptista
Ph.D., Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Focus: Ecosystem Models and Forecasts
Dr. James Whittaker
Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Minnesota
Research Focus: Biomolecular Structures
Dr. Peter Zuber
Ph.D., University of Virginia School of Medicine
Research Focus: Gene Expression
Dr. Bradley Tebo
Associate Director Ph.D., Marine Biology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Research Focus: Geomicrobiology & Microbial Biogeochemistry
Dr. Ninian Blackburn
Ph.D., Inorganic Chemistry, University of Dundee
Research Focus: Biochemistry
Dr. Margo Haygood
Ph.D., Marine Biology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Research Focus: Environmental Microbiology & Bacterial Physiology
Dr. Richard Johnson
Ph.D., Environmental Science, Oregon Graduate Center
Research Focus: Contaminant Hydrology
Oregon Health & Science University
Institute of Environmental Health
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Mail Code HRC3
Portland, Oregon, USA 97239-3098
Tel: (503) 346-3411
Alumni Profile: Kayce Pierce, 2013
Masters in Environmental Science and Engineering