Environmental Sciences and Engineering Courses
Check out the beta version of our new Gillings Program Search (GPS) for prospective students. The GPS provides a search option for our School’s degree and non-degree programs, as well as the ability to drill down to an overview of each program’s quick facts and related information about how to apply. See our tuition and fees page for related information.
You can download the Spring 2016 ESE schedule of courses here. (Please note that the schedule is subject to change until the beginning of classes.) All course schedules are available on the UNC Registrar’s website. To use the UNC registrar search engine, please enter “ENVR” under course subject.
Official ESE course descriptions taken from the UNC Undergraduate Record and the UNC Graduate Record are below. Additional courses may be added on a semester basis at the discretion of the department.
If you have any questions about course offerings or descriptions, please contact the Departmental Student Services staff by phone at 919-966-4818 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Some titles below link to the syllabus for that course. Please note that some syllabi are for past semesters, so dates will not apply to future semesters.
Examines key events that have shaped our understanding of the impacts of environmental agents on human health and uses them to introduce basic concepts in environmental health.
Presents the results of ongoing research projects in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. Topics and presenters are selected from among the departmental graduate students and faculty.
Required preparation, a background in chemistry and mathematics, including ordinary differential equations. Chemical processes occurring in natural and engineered systems: chemical cycles; transport and transformation processes of chemicals in air, water, and multimedia environments; chemical dynamics; thermodynamics; structure/activity relationships.
A systems approach to dealing with environmental pollution problems is highlighted and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is introduced as an assessment tool. Topics include basic environmental interactions; biogeochemical cycles and environmental impacts (global, regional and local); and application of LCA to waste management and energy conversion systems; are addressed. Taught on location in Thailand.
Students learn laboratory, field, and analytical skills. Provides a solid introduction to experimental research in environmental sciences and engineering. Students are provided with applications in limnology, aquatic chemistry, and industrial hygiene.
Required preparation, one course in general microbiology. A description of microbial populations and communities, the environmental processes they influence, and how they can be controlled to the benefit of humankind.
Required preparation, introductory biology, chemistry, and physics. Basic aspects of freshwater ecosystem function. Emphasis on trophic level interactions and integration of physical, chemical, and biological principles for a holistic view of lake ecosystem dynamics.
Permission of the instructor for nonmajors. Physical and chemical principles underlying behavior of particles suspended in air. Topics include rectilinear and curvilinear motion of the particles in a force field, diffusion, evaporation, and condensation, electrical and optical properties, and particle coagulation. Three lecture hours a week and two laboratory sessions.
Required preparation, major in a natural science or two courses in natural sciences. Studies origin of ocean basins, seawater chemistry and dynamics, biological communities, sedimentary record, and oceanographic history. Term paper. Students lacking science background should see MASC 101. No credit for MASC 401 after receiving credit for MASC 101.
Principles and applications of chemical equilibria to natural waters. Acid-base, solubility, complex formation, and redox reactions are discussed. This course uses a problem-solving approach to illustrate chemical speciation and environmental implications. Three lecture hours per week.
Required preparation, introductory course in microbiology or permission of the instructor. Presentation of the microbes of public health importance in water, food, and air, including their detection, occurrence, transport, and survival in the environment; epidemiology and risks from environmental exposure. Two lecture and two laboratory hours per week.
Toxicological assessment of and a case presentation of related exposure is given. A conceptual approach is utilized to design appropriate programs to prevent worker ill health due to toxicant exposure.
Required preparation, basic biology, chemistry through organic, calculus. Permission of the instructor for students lacking this preparation. Interactions of environmental agents (chemicals, infectious organisms, radiation) with biological systems including humans, with attention to routes of entry, distribution, metabolism, elimination, and mechanisms of adverse effects. Three lecture hours per week.
Required preparation, basic biology, chemistry through organic, math through calculus; permission of the instructor for students lacking this preparation. A practical introduction to the measurement of biological end-points, emphasizing adverse effects of environmental agents, using laboratory and field techniques. Two laboratory hours per week.
Fundamentals of occupational safety and ergonomics with emphasis on legislation and organization of industrial safety and ergonomic programs, including hazard recognition, analysis, control, and motivational factors pertaining to industrial accident and cumulative trauma disorder prevention.
Prerequisite, ENVR 422. An introduction to the health hazards associated with the various unit operations of industry. Field trips to local industries planned.
Prerequisite, CHEM 430. Required preparation, one course in biochemistry. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. Biochemical actions of toxicants and assessment of cellular damage by biochemical measurements. Three lecture hours per week.
Required preparation, elementary differential equations course such as MATH 524. Focuses on chemical reaction rates and reaction mechanisms. Covers mole balances, rate laws, chemical kinetics, and reactor design. Principles are applied to any environmental system where chemical transformations must be described. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisite, PHYS 301. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. The physical properties of fluids, kinematics, governing equations, viscous incompressible flow, vorticity dynamics, boundary layers, irrotational incompressible flow.
Required preparation, math through differential equations and some familiarity with fluid mechanics. Conservation principles for mass, momentum, and energy developed and applied to groundwater systems. Scope includes the movement of water, gas, and organic liquid phases, the transport and reaction of contaminants. Three lecture hours per week.
Required preparation, a multivariate calculus course like MATH 233. Overview of geographical information systems (GIS) using the Arc GIS software, and introduction to advanced geostatistical functions for temporal GIS describing environmental and health phenomena distributed across space and time. Application to the spatiotemporal mapping of environmental water quality.
Required preparation, one course in probability and statistics. Use of mathematical models and computer simulation tools to estimate the human health impacts of exposure to environmental pollutants. Three lecture hours per week.
This course is intended to develop a student’s ability to operate the primary instruments for measuring these important pollutants, collect and process samples where necessary, record data, and process instrument data into final air concentration data.
Prerequisite or corequisite, ENVR 416. Basic laboratory exercises in aerosol sciences.
Required preparation, one course in probability and statistics. Use of quantitative tools for balancing conflicting priorities (such as costs versus human health protection) and evaluating uncertainties when making environmental decisions.
This is a course on Sanitation in Developing Countries of interest to undergrads, grads. No prerequisites. 3 credit hours, with readings, exams, and a paper. Note for Fall 2016, this course will be ENVR 890-001.
Intensive introduction to environmental management and policy, including environmental and health risks, policy institutions, processes, and instruments, policy analysis, and major elements of American environmental policy. Lectures and case studies. Three lecture hours per week.
A practical experience in a setting relevant to environmental health.
This course examines the relationship between environmental quality, human health and welfare, with particular attention to contamination in human environment; physical, biological, and social factors; trade-offs regarding prevention and remediation measures. Satisfies core School of Public Health requirement. Three lecture hours per week.
An introduction to relevant epidemiologic concepts that inform environmental science research. Learning objectives include discussing basic epidemiologic concepts and measures of disease occurrence in populations, explaining epidemiological study designs for studying associations between risk factors or exposures in populations, evaluating epidemiologic evidence, and comprehending basic ethical principles.
Students will learn about how social, economic, and political factors impact environmental health outcomes and will be introduced to theories and methods for incorporating social determinants frameworks into environmental health research, as well as the role of environmental justice movements.
Required preparation, one year of biology. Environmental systems biology examines how environmental stressors influence the components of a biological system, and how the interactions between these components result in changes in the function and behavior of that system.
Permission of the instructor for nonmajors. The course material introduces the general concepts of assessing environmental exposures to chemicals in human populations. This includes the design of ecologic and personal monitoring studies, the techniques and equipment used for sampling and analysis, and interpretation of data.
Requires some programming experience and basic numerical analysis. Error in computation, solutions of nonlinear equations, interpolation, approximation of functions, Fourier methods, numerical integration and differentiation, introduction to numerical solution of ODEs, Gaussian elimination.
Prerequisites, COMP 116 and MATH 383. Numerical methods for solving problems arising in sciences and engineering. Solution of linear equations using direct and iterative approaches, solution of nonlinear systems of algebraic equations, solution of ordinary differential equations including single and multistep methods, and methods for stiff systems of ODEs and collocation methods for linear and nonlinear PDEs.
Requires an undergraduate course in differential equations. Contour integration, asymptotic expansions, steepest descent/stationary phase methods, special functions arising in physical applications, elliptic and theta functions, elementary bifurcation theory.
Prerequisite, ENVR 461. A first graduate-level course in physical principles relevant to environmental systems. Topics include dimensional analysis, tensor calculus, conservation of mass and momentum. Applications are considered from natural and engineered systems and across all relevant media. Focus is on the development of mechanistic representation of environmental systems.
672 PROBABILITY AND STATISTICAL INFERENCE I (4). Prerequisite, MATH 233 or equivalent. Introduction to probability; discrete and continuous random variables; expectation theory; bivariate and multivariate distribution theory; regression and correlation; linear functions of random variables; theory of sampling; introduction to estimation and hypothesis testing. Taylor’s series , Riemann, Stieltjes and Lebesgue integration, complex variables and Laplace transforms. Fall. Ivanova
This course teaches practical basics of how to solve environmental engineering problems in the hydraulics of pipes, pumps, networks and open channels. The course is a mix of classroom lectures, problem solving sessions, and laboratory sessions Prerequisites PHYS 104 (basic physics), MATH 231 (basic calculus) or equivalents.
This class is designed for graduate students planning for research in air pollution, emphasizing chemical kinetics and engineering approaches to problem solving in addition to atmospheric structure, meteorology, and modeling. We address problems of stratospheric and tropospheric ozone, particulate matter, and acid rain. We emphasize quantitative problem solving in homework.
Course builds on understanding of infectious and toxic hazards, disease causation and environmental transmission . Deals with: hazard and disease classification; ‘safety’; ‘risk’ and vulnerability;interventions and their health impact; approaches in different settings; distal factors (e.g. water scarcity and climate change) and approaches to study of WaSH and health.
Permission of the instructor for undergraduates and nonmajors. Introduces students to methods for research conception, design, planning, and implementation in fields related to water and its impacts on health. Students study approaches and tools that may be applied in water-related research and are coached in developing their own research design.
Permission of the instructor. Seminar on policy and planning approaches for providing improved community water and sanitation services in developed countries. Topics include the choice of appropriate technology and level of service, pricing, metering, and connection charges; cost recovery and targeting subsidies to the poor; water venting; community participation in the management and operation of water systems; and rent-seeking behavior in the provision of water supplies.
A 2 credit fall course open to doctoral and master’s students with a complete data set with results to communicate to other scientists as a scientific paper or manuscript submission to peer reviewed journals on an aspect of water and health. Undergraduate honors students admissible at discretion of the instructor.
Permission of the instructor. Directed readings or laboratory study of a selected topic. A written report is required in the form of an honors thesis (ENVR 692H).
Students complete honors research projects.
Directed readings or laboratory study. Written reports are required. May be taken more than once for credit. Three to nine hours per week.
Prerequisite, PHCO 702. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Cellular and physiological basis of toxicity of environmental chemicals, with emphasis on inhalation toxicology, developmental toxicology, immunotoxicology, radiation toxicology, renal toxicology, and neurotoxicology. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisite, a previous or concurrent course in microbiology. Theory and practice of biological processes used to remove contaminants from environmental media, including water, wastewater, soil, and air.
Presentations by outside invited speakers, local faculty, advanced graduate students, and postdoctoral trainees. Topics will cover all areas of research in toxicology. One hour per week.
Students will select, critically review, and discuss current research papers for content, relevance, innovation, and clarity. Papers can be from any aspect of the environmental sciences. Two lecture hours per week, every other week.
The physical chemistry of the partitioning, exchange, and chemical transformation of organic contaminants in the water, air, and soil environments.
Required preparation, basic or general chemistry. Emphasis on acquiring laboratory skills and hands-on experience with instrumentation including chromatography and mass spectrometry; sample handling and preparation; quality assurance and control. Three lecture hours or one lecture hour and four laboratory hours per week.
Required preparation, organic or physical chemistry. Permission of the instructor. Critical analysis for Ph.D. students of the chemistry, role, and function of refractory organic matter in aquatic environments. Three lecture hours per week.
Required preparation, knowledge of basic human physiology and biochemistry helpful. Assessing health effects of air pollutants on normal and diseased human populations, including children. Physiology, cellular and molecular biology, immunology, genetics, dosimetry will be integrated. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisites, ENVR/TOXC/BIOC 442 or ENVR 430. ENVR/TOXC 707 and ENVR 470 are highly recommended. This course will provide students who already have good knowledge of the basic principles of toxicology and environmental health with real-life examples of how the information is integrated for the purpose of judging what chemical exposures may pose risk to human health.
Prerequisites, calculus and physics; permission of the instructor. Principles of industrial ventilation for contaminant control and design of such systems. Basic laboratory exercises. Two lecture and one laboratory hour per week.
Corequisite, ENVR 750; prerequisite, permission of the instructor. Design problem for industrial operation. One seminar hour per week.
Prerequisite , ENVR 422. Engineering control of air pollution control systems and discussion of air pollution regulation and standards.
Permission of the instructor for nonmajors. Use of mathematical models to design and evaluate regional water supply and treatment systems. Engineering and economic methods are incorporated into quantitative analyses of regional scenarios. Social and political aspects also discussed. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisites, ENVR 419 and 451. Principles of disinfection, oxidation, coagulation, precipitation, sedimentation, filtration, adsorption, ion exchange, and membrane processes; applications to water and wastewater treatment. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisite, ENVR 453. Continuum mechanical approach to formulating mass, momentum, energy, and entropy equations to describe multiphase transport phenomena. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisites, MATH 661 and 662. Single, multistep methods for ODEs: stability regions, the root condition; stiff systems, backward difference formulas; two-point BVPs; stability theory; finite difference methods for linear advection diffusion equations.
Prerequisite, MATH 761. Elliptic equation methods (finite differences, elements, integral equations); hyperbolic conservation law methods (Lax-Fiedrich, characteristics, entropy condition, shock tracking/capturing); spectral, pseudo-spectral methods; particle methods, fast summation, fast multipole/vortex methods.
Prerequisites, MATH 661, 662, 668, and 669. Nondimensionalization and identification of leading order physical effects with respect to relevant scales and phenomena; derivation of classical models of fluid mechanics (lubrication, slender filament, thin films, Stokes flow); derivation of weakly nonlinear envelope equations.
Prerequisites, MATH 661, 662, 668, and 669. Current models in science and technology: topics ranging from material science applications (e.g., flow of polymers and LCPs); geophysical applications (e.g., ocean circulation, quasi-geostrophic models, atmospheric vortices).
Prerequisites, Multivariate Calculus (MATH 233 or equivalent), Linear Algebra (MATH 547 or equivalent), Experience with computer programming. Theory and numerical implementation of linear geostatistics (simple/ordinary/universal kriging) and modern geostatistics (Bayesian Maximum Entropy) to map environmental and health processes varying across space and time. Applications in exposure assessment, environmental epidemiology, medical geography, and risk assessment.
Prerequisites, fluid mechanics and permission of the instructor. Applications of finite element and vortex methods for modeling air flows of significance in industrial hygiene applications. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisites: BIOS 511 or SAS regression and statistics. Two ENVR courses (e.g. 430, 470, 707, 740, 770, 890-003, 890-006, 890-010) or permission from instructor. Mathematical approaches for assessing environmental and/or occupational exposures to chemicals in human populations using stochastic (group) statistics, regression analysis and modeling, and pharmacokinetic modeling; focus on human biomarker data.
Prerequisite, ENVR 430. This course provides both practical and theoretical information on biological monitoring of chemical exposures and how to evaluate and interpret exposure data. Three lecture hours per week and a term paper.
This course is intended for students interested in research involving exposure to environmental contaminants. The course focuses on the integration of engineering principles, with statistical tools to enhance inference. Statistical models based on the Johnson system of distributions are explored for the analysis data including exposure-biomarker relationships.
Air pollution is formed through thousands of chemical reactions. Computer models are used to simulate this complex chemistry and used to make policy. Current computational restraints force a simplified representation of atmospheric chemistry in these models, and the focus of this course is the implications of this on predictions
Prerequisite, ENVR 673. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. This course helps students learn and apply principles of water supply sewerage and drainage planning and design, work collaboratively on real-world problems with insufficient data, and present technical findings in a clear and convincing way.
Water resources planning and management. Federal and state water resources policies. Analytical skills to identify environmental problems associated with urban water resources development.
This course is intended to develop a student’s ability to estimate the relative merits of research and policy actions in several broad environmental areas, with attention to the associated uncertainty. Criteria to be included are both quantitative and qualitative, with an emphasis on public health, environmental, and economic metrics.
Prerequisite, PLAN 710. Basic theory, process, and techniques of public investment planning and decision making, involving synthesis of economic, political, and technologic aspects. Theory underlying benefit-cost analysis, adaptation to a descriptive and normative model for planning public projects and programs.
Required preparation, calculus. Applications of systems analysis techniques to the management of environmental quality.
This is a course on Sanitation in Developing Countries of interest to undergrads, grads. No prerequisites. 3 credit hours, with readings, exams, and a paper.
Attendance at each seminar is mandatory for all students enrolled. It is expected that students will actively participate by asking questions of the speaker. This one credit course is meant to give students practice speaking in front of an audience and to explore topics of their own choosing in detail. Students will research topics and organize presentations for faculty and other students. The topics may be any aspect of air quality and atmospheric sciences and must be approved by the instructor in advance. To help students improve as speakers, each student will receive feedback from the fellow students and the instructor. After your seminar, arrange a time to meet with me to discuss your performance.
This is an advanced course on membrane processes for water purification. The course will be divided in three distinct sections: (i) microfiltration and ultrafiltration; (ii) nanofiltration, reverse osmosis, and forward osmosis; and (iii) electro-deionization. The reason to divide the course in these three sections is that the physico-chemical phenomena controlling water and solute transport is the same in the membranes within each section, and different between membranes from different sections. For each of the section, the course covers: (1) the transport phenomena controlling water and solute permeation; (2) fouling phenomena; (3) characterization of membrane materials; (4) characterization of membrane performance; and to a lesser degree (5) chemistry of membrane materials. While this is not a design course, basic design principles of membrane processes are also covered.
A practical experience in public health/environmental health sciences.
Consultation with the faculty and approval of subject and proposed program required. Permission of the instructor. May be repeated. Hours and credits to be arranged.
The technical report requirement for M.S.P.H., M.P.H., and M.S.E.E. candidates is satisfied by the extensive study of a problem in environmental sciences and engineering.