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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Department of Geography

Physical Geography, Environmental Science, and Landscape Processes

Physical geography seeks to identify and understand the linkages between the myriad natural components of earth’s system, such as the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the lithosphere, and the biosphere. The object of focus is primarily the earth that humans inhabit. Therefore, physical geographers also examine human modification of the natural processes that constitute the earth system.

At Syracuse University faculty engage in geomorphology, biogeography, and climatology through examining processes and their interactions at a variety of spatial and temporal scales and across a range of environments. Faculty conduct research in three principle areas: (1) fluvial and hillslope geomorphology, including soil erosion, sediment transport, and biogeomorphic interactions; (2) habitat disturbance in riparian and forest ecosystems; and (3) land use modification in urban settings and its impacts on climate processes and human response.

Field areas for research include China, Arizona, California, Alaska, and New York State. Some examples of recent and current graduate research projects include lake-effect snowfall distribution; particulate matter and urban snow reflectivity; biodiversity linkages with fluvial networks; and the spatial details of Dutch Elm Disease’s spread through the United States. The department also houses a state-of-the-art GIS analysis laboratory and a soils, geomorphology, and biogeography laboratory.

Faculty
Jacob Bendix (Biogeography, geomorphology, human impacts on environmental systems, media coverage of the environment)
Peng Gao (Erosion and sediment transport in rivers and watersheds, 3D GIS design and analysis for urban environments)
Susan W. S. Millar (Physical geography, periglacial geomorphology, arctic science, climate change)
Jane M. Read (Geographic information systems, remote sensing, land use and land cover, human environment interactions, neotropics, geohumanities)

Courses
GEO 155: The Natural Environment
GEO 215: Global Environmental Change
GEO 314: Hazardous Geographic Environments
GEO 316: River Environments
GEO 317: Mountain Environments
GEO 318: Tropical Environments
GEO 319: Cold Environments
GEO 326: Weather and Climate GEO 327: Coastal Environments GEO 422/622: Geography of the Anthropocene GEO 455/655: Biogeography
GEO 482/682: Environmental Remote Sensing
GEO 551: Research in Environmental and Land Use Policy GEO 583: Environmental GIS
GEO 687: Environmental Geostatistics
GEO 750: Seminar in Physical Geography
GEO 757: Environmental Sediment Mechanics GEO 758: GIS-Based Geostatistical Methods and Applications

Careers
Agricultural extension agent
Climate Change Analyst
Climatologist
Coastal zone manager
Environmental consulting
Environmental impact assessment
Environmental scientist
Forestry technician
Hazardous-waste planner
Hydrologist
Natural resources manager
Outdoor guide
Park ranger
Soil conservationist/scientist
USGS surveyor
Water resources specialist
Weather forecaster