Campus: CSU Chico -- January 23, 2002

Environmental Science to be Boosted by Field Research Equipment at CSU Chico

California State University, Chico's College of Natural Sciences is acquiring an array of equipment to use in the field to support course work and research in the environmental sciences.

The Environmental Science Field Research Unit (ESFRU) will include varied sensors, meters and probes along with portable hardware and software. The equipment will be able to fit in the back of a truck and will be used by faculty and students in environmental science, geology, hydrology, biology, chemistry and math and possibly other programs.

James Houpis, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, said the field research unit would include some new and existing equipment. The cost of new equipment will be $259,000, he said. The unit will be assembled during the spring 2002 semester.

Among the new equipment to be purchased will be an auger for taking soil samples, a transmitter and receiver that take sonic readings in drilling holes, a portable kit for measuring photosynthesis, and a spectrometer and reflectometer to test soils and plants, respectively.

"I feel ESFRU will provide great opportunities for our students and faculty in the environmental arena," said Houpis. "Not only will it enhance our existing record of excellence in environmental curriculum and research, but the portable nature of it will facilitate collaborative efforts with other colleges and take full advantage of the new CSU, Chico Big Chico Creek Reserve."

Houpis said some of the benefits of the field research unit will be promoting cross-discipline class work and research, providing students local research opportunities, offering environmental educational programs to the community and training students on state-of-the-art equipment that will help them compete in the job market.

Interest in environmental education and research is strong in the college and university-wide, Houpis said. Many undergraduate and graduate students are choosing environmental research projects for their theses, he said. Since July, the college has secured more than $800,000 in funding through grants and contracts, he added.

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