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New museum-university partnership ushers in new era of environmental science education

PHILADELPHIA (May 15, 2012) This fall, Drexel Environmental Science students will have a breadth of new research and academic opportunities locally and across the globe as a result of the University's unique academic affiliation with the Academy of Natural Sciences. Out of the affiliation comes the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES), where students will work and learn among some of the world's leading scientists and have access to the Academy's extensive natural science collections and community outreach programs.

"Our motto is 'experiential learning early and often,' which means incoming freshmen won't have to wait until classes start to roll up their sleeves," said Dr. David Velinsky, head of the new BEES department at Drexel, and vice president for Environmental Research at the Academy.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is America's oldest natural history museum and a world leader in biodiversity and environmental research. For 200 years, the Academy has encouraged and cultivated the sciences, exploration of biodiversity and sharing discoveries with the public.

Freshmen entering Drexel's environmental science major in the fall of 2012 will be the first to enroll in a newly redesigned environmental science bachelor's curriculum, which features a weeklong interactive courseprior to orientationat the Barnegat Bay Field Station in New Jersey. The field station provides opportunities for biological surveys and estuary studies of over 180 acres of diverse coastal and forest habitats; students will gain hands-on research experience in turtle ecology, wetland processes and climate change, fisheries biology and nutrient dynamics during their pre-orientation week.

In addition to the redesigned bachelor's degree in environmental science, the department will offer a minor in ecology as well as master's and doctoral degrees in environmental scienceall previously housed in the Department of Biology at Drexel.

"After the pre-term fieldwork at Barnegat Bay," said Velinsky, "our students will continue their experiential learning for the rest of their academic careers at Drexel through basic and applied research and opportunities to work in field stations in the U.S. and abroad."

In Philadelphia, students will have access to the Academy's natural science collections, some of the most extensive in the world, which provide an exceptional context and resources for the assessment of environmental change on a local and global scale. Through Drexel's cooperative education program (co-op), students can gain full-time work experience at the Academy in research and education positions, and can also get involved in the Academy's extensive community outreach work, including public seminars and educational events and programs with Philadelphia high schools.

Across the U.S. and the globe, the Academy affiliation is also expanding field research opportunities for Drexel environmental science students. In addition to existing opportunities in Patagonia, Costa Rica and Bioko Island in West Africa, new study and co-op abroad programs are now available at Academy field sites, including Upper Mongolia, Jamaica and Arctic regions of Canada.

The new BEES department in the College of Arts and Sciences brings together more than a dozen scientists from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University with the exceptional environmental science faculty from Drexel's Department of Biology.

"I am excited about the expanded opportunities Drexel students will experience as a result of our affiliation with the Academy," said Dr. Donna Murasko, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "We are proud to welcome the Academy's scientists to our faculty and look forward to new collaborations and a brilliant future for the BEES Department."


Contact: Rachel Ewing
Drexel University

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