Department Chair’s Message


I am particularly thrilled and honored to be the incoming Chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP). I am excited to implement our new vision. ESP embraces local, regional and global solutions to environmental issues by turning science into policy building upon a strong foundation of partnerships, high level educational programs, field applications and leadership in extension and outreach for a diversified community.  Our faculty have demonstrated to policy makers and the general public the centrality of and solutions available to pressing environmental issues. We will continue to provide technical advice to businesses, other educational institutions, NGOs, and government agencies.

My mission is to support and grow one of the most prestigious departments in environmental science and policy in the country. Our university is in a key location and ESP has the ability to integrate the ecological features and environmental issues of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Estuary, as well as the rich history and culture in the region. We will continue to work with our faculty, staff, undergraduate students, graduate students and scientists and strengthen our three strategies: 1) Excellence in Conservation Science and Policy; 2) One Health Approach to Ecosystems and Sustainability; and 3) Leadership in Water and Watersheds. Within these three strategies, our natural and social science and applied work come together.

Our faculty and students work on a wide range of activities, ecosystems and species ranging from economic valuation of natural resources to contaminant levels in estuarine habitats; from the Potomac River to coral reefs; from ecotourism in Africa to global marine mammal conservation; from local solutions to global environmental policy; from sea turtles to manatees; and from salamanders to tigers. Our faculty are highly recognized for their accomplishments continuously receiving international awards in conservation, sustainability and the environment.

ESP works closely with other departments and colleges within the University providing our students truly interdisciplinary opportunities. For example, we plan to build a molecular ecology laboratory, in partnership with Biology and the Forensic Science Program, focusing on emerging infectious diseases and wildlife forensics. We plan to strengthen our work with Chemistry at the new Potomac Science Center through PEREC to be certified in measuring organic contaminants and heavy metals.

We offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science, and in collaboration with the School of Integrative Studies, we offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. We have a world-recognized interdisciplinary PhD program in Environmental Science and Public Policy and a successful MS program in Environmental Science and Policy with a breath of concentrations from species to ecosystems, including a concentration in Environmental Management targeting busy professionals in the DC area. Within these programs of study, you are free to select one of several concentrations in which to develop expertise and skills. I invite you to visit us any time. Dr. Chris Parsons is our Undergraduate Coordinator and Dr. Al Torzilli is Director of Graduate Programs. Call the department to arrange a visit at 703-993-1043.

Looking forward to expanding our horizons,

A. Alonso Aguirre