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The UCLA Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) Program was founded in 1973 by Nobel laureate Dr. Willard Libby, who perceived a need to train environmental scientists, engineers, and policymakers in a more interdisciplinary manner than is afforded by traditional Ph.D. programs. After three decades, Dr. Libby’s vision has in fact been realized with the evolution of the program from an experimental approach into a key component of the overall effort to train environmental professionals at UCLA.
To date the program has awarded the Doctor of Environmental Science and Engineering (D.Env.) degree to over 200 students, and UCLA remains unique in the country in awarding such a degree. Many graduates have gone on to occupy critical positions in environmental research, remediation, and policy throughout the major environmental agencies in California and the nation. Other graduates have risen to senior positions in private sector companies conducting environmental research and remediation. Still other graduates are applying scientific solutions to environmental problems at national laboratories such as Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories and at research institutes such as the RAND Corporation.
Although many participating interdepartmental faculty members are from the College of Letters and Science and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the program is administered through the School of Public Health where a core faculty is based in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. No undergraduate major or master’s degree is offered.
The program is designed to train multidisciplinary professionals with an appropriate balance of breadth and specific skills, based on a strong master’s-level foundation in a science or engineering discipline. The curriculum consists of formal coursework across a full spectrum of relevant physical, biological, social, and engineering disciplines, as well as interdisciplinary research training through nine-month problems courses. Because the D.Env. degree is not a specialized research degree in the manner of a Ph.D., the usual extended research training period in residence at UCLA associated with a Ph.D. is replaced by an 18- to 36-month internship in an appropriate government agency, national laboratory, or private industry, during which in-depth study of an environmental problem leads to a dissertation.
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