Students confront significant and complex environmental, economic, and social justice issues.

St. Edward's University provides sustainability-related research opportunities both on campus and abroad, many of which are partnerships between students and faculty. Learn about research opportunities by visiting the Fellowships Office or the Office of Sponsored Programs, or by talking to your academic advisor or faculty instructor.

The university offers several sustainability-related degree programs and courses for both undergraduate or graduate students. Undergraduates can major in Environmental Science & PolicyEnvironmental Biology and Climate Change or Environmental Chemistry.

Faculty not only play an essential role in the classroom, but they also inspire students with their own sustainability research and endeavors. They teach a wide range of courses, from Environmental Controversies in Austin, to Ligerian Ecology, to Biodiversity Conservation.

Professor Peter Beck discusses why students major in Environmental Science and Policy, and why this major is important to him.

Wild Basin Creative Research Center

In its role as an interdisciplinary laboratory of St. Edward’s University, Wild Basin Creative Research Center protects and maintains its urban wilderness, and promotes the importance of environmental education, research, conservation, and preservation. Collaboration between Wild Basin and the university enables the creation of programs and initiatives that serve to fulfill the mission.

Student Projects and Research Highlights

Past and current projects at Wild Basin:

  • Narda Salinas '17 investigated the vegetation communities in a historic dumpsite at Wild Basin that underwent ecological restoration in the 1980s. James LaManna '15 assessed the ant diversity in this same site. The goal of the projects was to evaluate the effectiveness of the original restoration efforts 30 years down the road and describe the current ecological conditions.
  • LaManna also conducted research on the Vireo Preserve (adjacent to Wild Basin). He compared ant abundance and diversity at managed and unmanaged sites.
  • Mia Moore-Garcia '17 investigated trail use patterns at Wild Basin (both temporally and spatially). Her project also explored the role of environmental psychology in hiker behavior.
  • Paul Finch '21 is studying how wildlife's use of trails is impacted by human foot-traffic in Wild Basin.

Student Awards and Scholarships

Student Awards

Flor Flores '21, Environmental Science and Policy: Awarded a Mickey Leland Conservation Fellowship at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Yeji Kang '20 and Olivia Rome '20, both Environmental Science and Policy: Won the Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation award at the Texas Society for Ecological Restoration Conference for their study, "Seedbank dynamics before and after a prescribed fire in the Texas Hill Country"

Andrea Calderon '19, Environmental Science and Policy and a McNair Research Scholar: Awarded a Doris Duke Conservation Scholarship, and Princeton Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship. Currently a staff assistant for the U.S. Rep. Lisa Blount Rochester (D-AL) in Washington D.C.

Sarah Morton '18, Environmental Science and Policy: Awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan.  Currently a graduate student at Oxford University in the U.K.


Student Research

Meagen Wallace '19, Environmental Science and Policy: Conducted NSF funded research in Costa Rica examining ecotourism and conservation incentives. Currently an environmental scientist for AECOM in Washington D.C.

Amanda De La Rosa '19, Environmental Science and Policy: Conducted NSF funded research in Costa Rica examining water quality variation in private land and protected areas.  Awarded an M.Sc. scholarship to the European Union's IMBRSEA program to study greenhouse gas emissions from blue carbon soils.

Camila Rojas '19, Environmental Science and Policy: Researched the impacts of ecotourism in Costa Rica. She is currently in an M.S. program at the University of Georgia.

Jack Ripple '20, Environmental Science and Policy: Awarded a Hook fellowship to study "Use of turkey tail fungus to restore soil fertility and improve ecosystem function in degraded Texas Hill Country forests." 

Hailey Reier '20, Environmental Science and Policy: "Costs and benefits of campus trees at St. Edward's University."

Sustainability Faculty and Their Research

Approximately 11% of faculty members currently engaged in research are focusing on sustainability. You'll find them and their research subjects organized below by school:

School of Behavioral and Social Sciences:

  • Peter Beck: Environmental sustainability and public policy. Dr. Beck and Michael Wasserman, PhD, former St. Edward's University faculty member and currently at Indiana University, have been awarded their second $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the influence of different land-use patterns on forest and primate conservation in Costa Rica. The grant funds five students each spring to conduct field research for 10 weeks in Costa Rica, Panama, or Uganda. Additional information about this and other research grants can be found here
  • Jim Checkley: environmental law 
  • Amy Lynn Concilio: Global change, invasive plant species, and management of grassland and rangeland ecosystems
  • Barbara L. Dugelby: Ecosystem management and sustainability
  • Gary A. Morris: Air quality, ozone, and the troposphere. Dr. Morris has three current sustainability-related grants that he is bringing from his previous university. One is from NASA and two are from the Texas Center on Environmental Quality. His grants support his work with monitoring air and water quality by collecting samples from various sites on a regular basis, and his providing analysis of results. Additional information about these and other research grants can be found here.

School of Natural Sciences: 

  • Bill Quinn: Forestry, native forests, sustainability. Dr. Quinn is also overseeing a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service for ongoing training of interns and newly-hired graduates working for the Forest Service. 
  • Lisa Goering: Food safety, food chain security 
  • Patricia Baynham: Anti-microbial qualities of plant extracts
  • Richard Kopec: Dr. Kopec is overseeing a National Science Foundation grant of approximately $2.5 million in support of STEM student scholarships, Science Living-Learning Communities, and summer join faculty-student research projects. Additional information about this and other research grants can be found here
  • Darren Proppe: avian ecology (at Wild Basin)
  • Matthew Steffenson: immunological activity of honeybees

Presidential Excellence Grant Awards

St. Edward’s University provides institutional support for faculty research through its Presidential Excellence Grant Awards for summer research projects.  Although these grant awards are not limited to research on sustainability, faculty who wish to apply for sustainability research grants are encouraged to do so.