Environmental Chemistry

Environmental Chemistry at OSU. 

Environmental scientists examine chemical species in our surroundings.  This is a broad interdisciplinary undertaking, bringing together atmospheric, aquatic, and soil scientists.  Analytical chemistry methods are especially important for identifying and quantifying chemical species that are often present in complex mixtures in very small quantities.  The source, role, and fate of environmental contaminants, which are chemical species present in nature due to human activity, are often a focus of environmental scientists.  In the Chemistry Department at OSU several faculty members have research interests that include environmental chemistry, including Dr. Heather Allen, Dr. James Coe, Dr. Craig Forsyth, Dr. Christopher Hadad, Dr. Barbara Wyslouzil, and Dr. Susan Olesik.

Environmental chemistry includes the study of many topics that are of great importance for society at large.  Both national and international climate change , CO2 pollution, ozone depletion & pollution, acid rain, and climate change are environmental issues receiving significant public attention.  Other areas of research include consumer health and food safety (e.g asbestos in building materials, PCBs in the food chain, mercury in seafood), air pollution, water pollution, and the recycling of household, industrial, and technological waste.  More information on these topics is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Chemistry web-site. If you are considering environmental chemistry as a career the web-site Environmental Programs provides an excellent overview and many useful links.

Undergraduate students are important contributors to environmental chemistry research at OSU and at other REEL institutions.  In REEL General Chemistry courses students frequently participate in research projects involving soil analysis.  In REEL Analytical Chemistry courses students are involved in research projects that focus on analysis of natural water samples.  A smaller number of students have completed independent-study environmental research projects with REEL supervisors.  Projects like these allow students to use advanced laboratory instrumentation, analyze authentic data sets, and communicate their findings.


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