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Environmental & Plant Biology Undergraduate Degrees


Minor & Certificate


Courses & Resources

Bring Back the Chestnuts? Send Plants to Space?

Imagine working on an experiment that goes to the International Space Station. Or planting American Chestnut seedlings in a national forest. Or studying remediation of acid mine drainage in Appalachian streams. Or interning at a national arboretum. Or testing natural wildflowers on Radar Hill.

Climb onto the van and head to the forest to identify local species. Or prep a plant sample for genetic analysis and investigate the results with bioinformatics. Undergraduate students in Environmental & Plant Biology get hands-on experience in the field and in the lab with internationally renowned faculty.

Why Study Plant Biology?

Plants are such a common part of our landscape that we sometimes overlook the vital roles they play in our everyday lives. In addition to supplying the oxygen we breathe, plants also provide food for both human and animal consumption, and therefore contribute to producing important products such as milk, leather, wool, and silk.

Other major uses of plants include materials for construction, fibers, essential oils (perfumes), industrial chemicals, and medicines. Plants also serve as a source of personal enjoyment in gardens, state and national parks, and individual homes.

Plants help maintain the ozone layer, thereby helping to protect us from the harmful rays of the sun and the increased possibility of skin cancer. Also, by decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, plants help to prevent a potentially catastrophic increase in global warming.

Plant biology, or botany, the scientific study of plants, allows us to build upon our existing knowledge of the plant world. As more is discovered about plants, we are able to:

  • Improve the amount and quality of food.
  • Increase yields of lumber from our forests with minimum disturbance to the ecosystem.
  • Provide and/or preserve outdoor recreational facilities.
  • Use plants to reduce environmental pollution.
  • Save endangered plants and animals from extinction.
  • Develop plants that have attractive, long-lasting flowers.
  • Reduce diseases that destroy important plants.
  • Produce new materials for construction.
  • Expand the way fibers can be used for paper and clothing.
  • Discover new medicines to combat such life-threatening diseases as cancer and AIDS.

Since plant biology is an important basic science that affects all of us, individuals pursuing careers in the plant sciences generally experience great satisfaction from working in areas that contribute to improving human life.