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New degree concentrations target forensics, environmental science

May 10, 2010

Students interested in careers in forensics or environmental science can take advantage of new concentrations offered within the bachelor’s degree program in life sciences on Arizona State University’s West campus.

“The fields of forensics and environmental science offer exciting career opportunities for college graduates who possess the appropriate skills and knowledge base,” said Todd Sandrin, associate director of the Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

“Our faculty members have worked to develop a curriculum for each concentration that will make graduates attractive to potential employers,” Sandrin said. “Graduates also will be well-prepared to apply to graduate schools if they choose to pursue that path.”

Students may begin to pursue the two new concentrations this fall.

The environmental sciences concentration will prepare students for careers in both the public and private sectors, in areas such as environmental consulting, environmental remediation and natural-resource management. Graduates also may choose to enter graduate programs in environmental science or a related discipline.

Among the course offerings in the environmental sciences concentration are Environmental Chemistry and The Human Environment, a course that explores the evolution of humans’ physiological, ecological and behavioral interaction with their environment.

“The curriculum will require students to approach environmental science from an interdisciplinary perspective, in part by also requiring coursework in environmental ethics and policy,” Sandrin said.

Meanwhile, students wishing to work in settings such as crime laboratories can take advantage of the new forensics concentration. Much of the required coursework will be completed in chemistry and/or life science lab courses to ensure that graduates are competitive as they enter the work force.

“Representatives from crime labs have indicated that prospective employees should take at least 30 credits of chemistry,” Sandrin said. “Students pursuing the forensics concentration will acquire 32 credits germane to chemistry. In addition to rigorous coursework in the natural and mathematical sciences, the curriculum will be enhanced and broadened by required coursework in oral and written communication as well as psychology and law.”

Courses in the forensics concentration include Biology Behind the Crime Scene, Instrumental Analysis, and Environmental and Human Toxicology.

The new concentrations in environmental science and forensics are offered within New College’s B.S. degree program in life sciences. The program helps students develop in-depth knowledge and understanding of biology, chemistry, geology and physics, as well as the interrelationships among these and other sciences.

“The life sciences degree program emphasizes hands-on experience in small groups and one-on-one with individual faculty members,” said Roger Berger, director of the Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences.

“Life sciences students have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research in faculty laboratories on the West campus,” Berger said. “Those who pursue independent study in the department are among the most successful at receiving employment offers or gaining entrance to advanced degree programs including medical, veterinary, dental or pharmacy schools.”

Recent life sciences graduates have gained entrance to medical, dental and pharmacy programs at institutions including Stanford Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, the University of Southern California and the University of Arizona. Others have been accepted to graduate degree programs at the University of Oregon, the University of Colorado, the U of A and ASU.

For more information about New College’s life sciences program and the new concentrations in forensics and environmental science, call (602) 543-6050.