University of Washington College of the Environment ESS Home

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. We invite you to explore our website whether you are considering applying to our undergraduate or graduate programs, interested in our research, or would just like to know more about us.

In 2001, the Department of Earth and Space Sciences was created through the merger of two UW departments, the Department of Geological Sciences and the Geophysics Program. It has a distinguished history of excellence in research and education.

We have four broad and overlapping areas of research focus: the solid earth, surface processes, geobiology, and atmospheres/planetary/space physics. In keeping with our mission, research centers and programs within or closely linked to the department allow for enhanced educational and research experiences. In addition, we maintain extensive collaborations with local, regional, and national agencies such as Emergency Management Division, Department of Natural Resources, USGS, NASA and NOAA.

The Department of Earth and Space Sciences offers outstanding disciplinary and interdisciplinary education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We emphasize direct field and laboratory experiences at all educational levels with active and close interactions between faculty and small groups of students. Options within the undergraduate degree include geology, physics, biology, and environmental earth science. In addition, we offer a broad spectrum of natural world and environmentally oriented general education courses that attract on the order of 3,000 students each year.

We continue to expand experiential learning opportunities for our students through field courses and field trips - most recently the volcanic fields of the Canary Islands and Hawaii, sedimentary stratigraphy and seismiscity in Sicily, and ice and climate in Greenland. Endowments and gift funds play an important role in not only providing tuition scholarships but in subsidizing field courses and research, including our undergraduate summer field course in Montana, so that these are more affordable for our students.

Our graduates are highly recruited with excellent placement by educational and research institutions, government agencies, and private sector businesses and corporations.

We are committed to quality education, research, public service and diversity within both the faculty and student populations.

Robert M. Winglee, Professor and Chair
Department of Earth and Space Sciences