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tennessee technological university

School of Environmental Studies

Ph.D. Environmental Sciences | Biology & Chemistry Concentrations
Your Research Plan & Access to Research Facilities

Campus Research Facilities

The Environmental Sciences Ph.D. is a research degree. Research is carried out in one of following three locations on campus:

  • The Department of Biology
  • The Department of Chemical Engineering
  • The Department of Chemistry
  • The Center for Management, Utilization and Protection of Water Resources (Water Center).

The facility summaries found on the "tabs" above, will acquaint you with each of the units and how they work together to provide a stronger, more comprehensive research program. The possibilities for collaboration between these areas will strengthen any dissertation research you undertake.

Your Research Plan

The Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program is a research-based degree program requiring a written and orally defended research dissertation. Since research is a primary component of this program, the Graduate Advisory Committee must approve the student's Research Plan.

  • The Research Plan is not meant to be in the form of a formal research proposal. There is a separate course (required for Chemistry Concentration students) that teaches students how to prepare a formal research proposal.
  • The Research Plan should be viewed like a contract between the student, the student's mentor, and the student's Graduate Advisory Committee. Changes to the Research Plan may occur while the research is carried out over the course of the student's tenure. The Graduate Advisory committee should be made aware of any substantial changes should this need arise.
  • Biology Concentration, the project must be defended by the end of the second semester or by the time the student has completed 15 hours of graduate coursework.
  • Chemistry Concentration, the Research Plan must be completed by the end of the third semester, excluding summer semesters.
  • For part-time students, the Research Plan should be completed at a time agreeable with the students Graduate Advisory Committee.

Research Plan Guidelines

  • The Research Plan should be a concise literature review of your proposed research.
  • It should also include any preliminary results obtained by the student as well as the proposed experimental procedures and methods.
  • The experimental procedures and methods should contain sufficient detail in order for the Graduate Advisory Committee to evaluate the proposal and judge its probability of success.
  • Equipment and supplies necessary for this research should be adequately described.
  • The Research Plan should include a bibliography; any other pertinent information may be included in the Research Plan.

Changes to Your Research Plan

  • If changes are suggested at the time of the Research Plan Defense, then the corrected copy is the one that should be forwarded to the Directors office, along with the Research Plan Cover Sheet and any pertinent forms.
  • If the Research Plan is abandoned and a new one is put in place, the Research Plan should be rewritten, presented to the student's Graduate Advisory Committee and forwarded to the Director's office with a revised Research Plan Cover Sheet and any other applicable forms.

Research Plan Cover Sheet

  • The cover sheet must be attached to the Research Plan and copies of both must be forwarded to the Director of the Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program.

Program of Study

  • The completed Program of Study Form (PDF) should also be included with the Research Plan bearing all applicable signatures.
  • The Director will then forward the Program of Study to the Graduate School Office.
  • If a Program of Study has previously been filed, and if changes are made to the Program of Study at the time of the Research Plan, the Substitution Form should be sent to the Director as well.
  • The Director will sign these forms and forward them to the Graduate School Office and retain copies for our records.
Ph.D. Environmental Sciences | The Biology Department
Research Facilities & Information

The Biology Department & Research

The Department of Biology is located in Pennebaker Hall on Dixie Avenue adjacent to the Roaden University Center. The Department is staffed with 19 faculty members representing various subject areas in biology, and three permanent support staff personnel; several research associates are supported by outside contracts and grants.

  • The department is committed to the study of living organisms through teaching, research, and public service in many areas of Environmental Science. We house the federally and state-funded Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit. Adjunct faculty members from state and federal agencies also teach courses in their own areas of expertise.
  • The department houses a wide variety of equipment and laboratories to carry out a diverse array of environmental research. Recent acquisitions include field monitoring/analysis equipment and a DNA auto sequencer for molecular level studies.
  • There is a student computer laboratory with 30 state-of-the-art desk-top computers, laser printer, projection system, and teaching station.

In addition to facilities, equipment, and personnel within the Biology Department, technical support is provided by the Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit (The Unit) and Center for the Management, Utilization, and Protection of Water Resources (Water Center) at Tennessee Tech.

  • The Unit is a fisheries research facility that functions as a research partnership between the University, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Currently, the Unit is staffed with three full-time Ph.D. fisheries biologists.
  • The Water Center is an on-campus research facility that investigates all phases of water quality and resource management associated with aquatic environments (described below). The center is staffed with five full-time Ph.D. environmental scientists.
  • Several full-time research associates and technicians work at both facilities. Most graduate students with wildlife and fisheries research topics work closely with personnel from The Unit or Water Center.
  • The Department is also affiliated with the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Personnel from these units provide additional expertise in a wide range of biological disciplines.

Over the past several years, faculty members have been successful in obtaining major research grants from EPA, USDA, TVA, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, U.S. Forestry Service, Tennessee Department of Transportation, TDEC, CI, NFWF, and the National Science Foundation.

  • Many faculty have had their research supplemented by the Tennessee Tech Faculty Research Fund or through collaborations with the Water Center.
Ph.D. Environmental Sciences | The Chemistry Department
Research Facilities & Information

The Chemistry Department & Research

The Department of Chemistry is located on University Drive behind the Roaden University Center. Presently, the Department of Chemistry has sixteen full-time Ph.D.-bearing faculty members. These positions are evenly distributed among the five major disciplines of chemistry. The Department is strongly committed to providing a balanced program of teaching, research, and service to our students.

  • The Department also has a strong commitment to research and scholarly activities.
  • The faculty are actively engaged in research in many exciting areas on the frontiers of chemical science, including: protein chemistry, environmental chemistry, organometallic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, molecular modeling of proteins, radiochemical separations, fuel chemistry, quantum mechanics, enzymology, organic synthesis, atmospheric chemistry and spectroscopy, coal liquefaction, and others.
  • Over the past several years, faculty members have been successful in obtaining major research grants from DOE, NIH, NSF, Research Corporation, The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, and ACS-PRF, totaling $1.8M in the past five years.
  • Two faculty members have received the University's Caplenor Research Award for Outstanding Research Accomplishments, and three have received the Sigma Xi Research Award from the local chapter.
  • Our faculty members have been published in prestigious journals such as Science, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and others, with a total of 35 publications in refereed journals in the past five years. Scholarly activities as well as teaching performance are important factors in promotion and tenure decisions at Tennessee Tech.

Instrumentation Resources for Teaching & Research

  • Varian Mercury 300 MHz FT-NMR with a super-conducting high-field magnet and multinuclear capabilities obtained by a major research instrumentation grant from NSF;
  • A new state-of-the-art computing facility containing 19 Dell Pentium II 400 MHz PC s;
  • Spectroscopy capabilities include:
    • a research grade laser facility (PhaseR DL1400 pump dye laser, McPhearson Model 207 0.67 m monochromator, and a Spex 1680 0.22 m double monochrometer), Nicolet 20 DXB, Mattson Galaxy Series 3000, and Bomem MB-Series Mid- and Near-IR FTIR spectrometers, a component UV-DAD system with gas sampling capability, a Cary 3E UV-visible spectrophotometer.
  • Elemental analysis: two PE 5000 atomic absorptions spectrometers equipped with MHS-20 vapor and HGA 500 graphite furnace accessories.
  • A complete array of separations instruments, including a Perkin-Elmer 8500 gas chromatograph equipped with capillary column/FID and packed column/NPD modules, a Hewlett Packard 5890 capillary gas chromatograph with FID and ECD detectors, a Suprex SFC/200A supercritical fluid chromatograph, a Perkin-Elmer Series IV HPLC, and a Beckman P/ACE System 2000 capillary electrophoresis instrument.
  • Biochemistry applications: a Pharmacia Biotech Gradi-Frac liquid chromatograph.
  • Radiochemistry laboratory facility has a Packard Cobra II gamma counting system and a PERALS spectrometer. We have several other counters, including a Packard Tri-Carb 460C liquid scintillation counter.
  • Electrochemistry: EG&G/PARC electrochemistry system (Model 264A polarographic analyzer, Model 362 scanning potentiostat and Model 379 coulometer).
  • And, an Orion 960 Autochemistry titration system and a Labconco controlled atmosphere glove box.
  • Our instruments have been acquired through NSF-ILI and other grants, donations, and College expenditures.
Ph.D. Environmental Sciences | The Chemical Engineering Department
Research Facilities & Information

The Chemical Engineering Department & Research

The Department of Chemical Engineering at Tennessee Technological University has a long tradition of excellence in Engineering Education. Within this tradition, and during the last few years, Research (as one of the most effective learning tools) has played an increasing role in the Department where research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students are prevalent.

  • We will briefly review below the numerous options for research implemented by the faculty of the Department in order to expose students to the exciting techniques used in an inquiry-based approach and needed to develop the new technologies of the 21st Century.

Undergraduate: Distinction in the Major (DITM)

  • The department pioneered the implementation of a Distinction in the Major (DITM) Option for juniors and seniors.
  • This option requires students to work with a faculty member on a focused research project in order to write a DITM thesis to be defended in front of the committee of faculty.
  • The program is coordinated with the Honors Program of the University.
  • Numerous students have completed this option while obtaining their undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and many of these students have successfully completed a doctoral degree or are continuing their professional careers in leading companies.

Dual Degrees (B.S.-M.S.)

  • For those interested in a dual degree option, the department created a BS-MS (four+one year) option that allows students to finish with two degrees.
  • This option is beneficial for those with an interest in a managerial career, for example.
  • For students interested in research involvement but without a formal option, the Department also offers Directed Individual Studies (DIS) through either or both the ChE 3990 or ChE 4990 courses. Students interested in these options need to contact our Undergraduate Research Coordinator, Dr.Cynthia Rice-York.

Graduate Programs

  • One of the most intensive efforts during the last few years has been in the development of a very active, cutting-edge, and exciting graduate and research program for those students interested in graduate education.
  • The department offers both a MS Degree and a Ph.D. Degree in Engineering (in collaboration with the College of Engineering) with an emphasis in Chemical Engineering.
  • This degree is uniquely suited for those students interested in interdisciplinary efforts, and students receive a focused diversity of training from co-advisers from different departments of engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biology to name a few.
  • An effective program of study is carefully tailored to satisfy the individual needs and interests of the students.
  • Graduates from our Doctoral Program have found successful positions in leading global and international companies and have won very prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE), among others.
  • Additional descriptions of research areas can be found in Research Opportunities, by contacting the faculty directly (see faculty pages) or our Graduate Program Coordinator, Dr. Holly Stretz.

Students & Events

  • The highlight of the student research efforts at Tennessee Technological University is the annual Student Research Day event held each spring.
  • The Department of Chemical Engineering has been the largest supplier of student posters for this event in all the years that it has been organized by our Office of Research, supplying approximately 45% of the posters originating from the College of Engineering and close to one third of the ones from the entire university.
  • The ChE students’ participation in this showcase event provides an indication of the strong focus of our Department in Research opportunities pursued by our students and faculty.
  • Students of the department are highly active in national and international meetings such as the Annual Meeting of the AIChE, the annual meeting of the American Electrophoresis Society (AES), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), the Electrochemical Society (ECS), the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), and the American Concrete Institute (ACI) to just name a few.

Ph.D. Environmental Sciences | The Water Center
Research Facilities & Information

The Water Center & Research

Graduate students and faculty in the Departments of Biology and Chemistry conducting research in environmental science have the opportunity to interact with the staff and facilities of the Center for the Management, Utilization, and Protection of Water Resources (the Water Center) at TTU. The Water Center is located in Southwest Hall located at the corner of West 10th Street and Stadium Drive.

  • The Water Center is a state-supported Center of Excellence administered through the College of Engineering and involves the participation of University faculty and students from the departments of Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Soil Sciences, and the Cooperative Fishery Unit.
  • The Water Center's emphasis on water quality includes the utilization of water by municipalities, industries, energy, agriculture, transportation, and recreation.
  • Water resource protection research efforts are concerned with the impacts of industrial, municipal, and hazardous wastes; landfill leachates; waste spills, accidents, and energy residues such as heat, water-carried wastes, and acid rain.

The Water Center maintains a staff with expertise in geographic information systems (GIS), modeling, and database management.

  • It offers a professionally staffed laboratory, capable of general wet chemistry/physical parameter analyses, organic analyses, metal analyses, and biological/mutagenicity/toxicity testing.
  • Basic techniques on solid-liquid phase interactions, chemistry, and the biological sciences provide support for fundamental and applied research.
  • Current faculty research emphasizes:
    • biodiversity;
    • surface and ground water protection, use, and availability;
    • domestic, industrial, and recreational water use;
    • conservation and reuse of finite water supplies;
    • public education and examination of socioeconomic problems of water treatment and distribution;
    • waste-water treatment and disposal;
    • and water pollution and the protection of aquatic organisms and other wildlife form point and non-point resources.
  • Some Environmental Sciences' faculty members are associated with our Centers of Excellence in Manufacturing and our Center for Electric Power.

Learn More About The Water Center at Tennessee Tech

Ph.D. Environmental Sciences
Student Funding Sources & Opportunities

TTU Funding Resources

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (home page)

Council of Graduate Schools (home page)

Rocky Mountain Nature Association (home page)