Environmental Science and Policy

Jun 14, 2013 Debra Cheung


To focus on the biological, policy, and associated physical issues critical to understand and solve environmental problems facing California and the world. ESP serves as a center of multidisciplinary environmental research on campus.


16.6 Total FTE (11.11 I&R, 4.49 OR, 1.0 CE); 0 lecturers, 2.0 prof. researchers. Two professors will be >65 and two others may retire early within the next six years.

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department

  • Conservation biology, ecology, biodiversity, and policy
  • Aquatic and watershed ecosystems: processes, management, and policy
  • Environmental policy: processes, evaluation, and management
  • Land use and transportation
  • Environmental computing and bioinformatics.

Program Impact/Ranking

General consensus and actual rankings (e.g. NAS) recognize that the environmental science program at UC Davis is among the elite in the nation and world (1st to 5th). ESP contributes substantially to this reputation. Notable faculty awards include the Albert Einstein Award (C. Goldman), National Academy of Sciences (T. Schoener), Presidency in International Societies (A. Hastings, G. Polis, P. Richerson), many keynote and plenary addresses (these 5; J. Quinn).

Extramural Grants and Gifts

$2,111,982 annual direct expenditures (1996-99 mean; does not include >$2,000,000/yr run through other units, e.g., John Muir, ITD, ITS, WFCB). We rank 7th in CA&ES for $/FTE (1997/98 data; 1998/99 data not available). Sources include NSF, EPA, NOA, DOE, Cal. Resource Agency. We have also raised >$7,000,000 for the Tahoe Aquatic Center.

Teaching Programs of the Department

In 1998/99, ESP had 5686 Student Credit Hours. We rank 7th in CA&ES for SCH/FTE. We have two undergraduate majors:

  1. Environmental Policy and Management (EBM) with a mean of 149.4 majors over last five years.
  2. Environmental Policy and Planning (EPAP) with a mean of 63.8 majors.

Graduate: We support 35-45 graduate students, most in the Graduate Group in ecology.

Outreach/Extension Roles

We have a long history of outreach, without a formal CE position (until 1999). Two faculty (Goldman, D. Sperling) won UC Davis' Public Service Award. Many generate extensive media coverage (e.g., CNN, NY and LA Times; Goldman, Harrison, Hastings, Polis, Quinn). To formalize ESP' role as a focal point for environmental outreach, we would like 1-2 new CE positions (applied aquatic ecology and conservation biology and policy).

Potential for Collaborative Links to Other Units to Develop Clusters of Excellence

ESP is already the center and collaborator for many well-funded projects that cross disciplines, departments, colleges, and agencies. We play major roles in the Lake Tahoe Group, Center for Ecological Health Research, ITS, CIPIC, GLOBEC, Information Center for Environment, and NSF-RTG in non-linear dynamics in biology. On campus, we have large multidisciplinary grants with WFCB, CEE, LAWR, EVE, Geology, and ARE. We plan to develop closer links with Ecotoxicology (risk assessment), Geology (watersheds), and National Biological Survey (USGS) and SDSC (to locate the NBS environmental bioinformatics center at UC Davis in ESP). Our collaboration with Bodega Marine Laboratory is strong, and growing. We are home department for the new Bodega Marine Laboratory director, and we share one of our newest faculty, Stephen Morgan, who is housed at BML. Gary Polis also serves a principle investigator for the newly-submitted LTER proposal to NSF for the Laboratory.

Positions Needed to Improve Research, Teaching and Extension Goals

  1. Environmental risk perception analysis: Evaluate policy implications of risk assessment data as well as variation across social groups in risk perception. A critical absence on campus, this position is relevant to programs in Food Science, EnTox, ARE and ITS.
  2. Water/watershed science and policy: Integrate data from ecology, economics, public values and perception, and governmental agencies to understand and manage watersheds. It is essential to both our majors and our graduate program in environmental policy.
  3. Applied limnologist: This position, high on the COE priority list, is explicitly designed to replace Prof. C. Goldman to assure continuity in the Lake Tahoe Research Group.
  4. Ecosystem modeler/scientist: Use broad expertise in ecosystem processes to address large-scale issues (global warming, CO2) that affect natural communities and resources. This constitutes a glaring gap in the environmental/ecological sciences at UC Davis.
  5. Applied spatial statistician/environmental data analysis: Use state of the art techniques to analyze spatially-explicit policy and scientific data. This position would facilitate environmental and bioinformatics work in ESP and campus-wide.
  6. Land use, biodiversity and transportation: Sustain an ESP strength by analyzing how transportation infrastructure affects land-use decisions and habitat protection.
  7. International environmental policy: A California and UC priority is to analyze policy in areas such as climate change, biodiversity, the oceans, water management, and air pollution.
  8. Watershed modeler: Integrate physics and biology to understand/model population and ecosystem processes in lake, delta, or coastal habitats. This expertise is needed at UC Davis.

Priorities (No Growth, 2006)

Positions 1, 3, 4 and 6 replace retirements (Schwartz, Goldman, Richerson, Johnston respectively). #2&7 redirect existing FTE and could be achieved via retirement by 2010 (Orlove, Wandesford-Smith). #1 is prioritized first in the CA&ES Science, the Public, and Public Policy Initiative. #2,3,4,5&7 are high priorities on either or both the CA&ES and campus Environment and Watershed Initiatives.

Priorities (10 Percent Growth Scenario)

(=2 FTE) Our six "no-growth" priority positions remain the same, all achieved by retirements and redirection. Positions 5&8 are new. #5 fits in well with campus expansion plans in the bioinformatics initiative. #8 is a high priority in the Watershed Initiative.

Projected Resource Needs and Strategies for Achieving

  1. Increase Student Credit Hours: Our SCHs and number of majors are about what they were 10 years ago, but down 30-40 percent from their high-points in the mid-1990s. The decline is most pronounced in our EPAP major, largely due to residual effects of declaring the major "impacted" five years ago. We are taking major steps to reverse that trend and to increase enrollment. These include extensive curriculum reorganization, more active recruitment and making our lower-division service courses more attractive. With the great governmental and public interest in the environment and very high funding opportunities, we project that our efforts will allow our majors and SCHs to increase 30-40 percent by 2006.
  2. Adequate facilities to carry out our program's mission: ESP now occupies 82-85 percent of what CA&ES space guidelines recommend. Moreover, Wickson Hall is not very high quality, nor modern. It is hard to continue our natural progress and growth as an environmental leader or even to commit to new extramural programs and funds when we are so space limited. The need is critical as the NBS would like to place their environmental bioinformatics center in ESP.
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