Welcome from the Department Head

Welcome to the website for the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science (SWES) at the University of Arizona. The SWES Department has a faculty consisting of 26 outstanding scientists, and comprises breadth and depth of expertise in research, teaching and extension of environmental science, defined here as basic to applied science of the Earth’s land surface and its impacts on human health and welfare. SWES focuses on that portion of the Earth’s near surface termed the “critical zone” that extends from the lower atmospheric boundary to the lower depth of circulating groundwater, and which includes vegetation and urban infrastructure, soil, sediment, vadose and saturated zones.

The SWES Department directs the undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree program in Environmental Science. In this major, students can select from select from four different sub-plans (Physics and Chemistry; Biology; Society and Environment; and Land, Air and Water) depending on their particular area of interest. Along with the School of Plant Sciences, the SWES Department also co-directs the undergraduate B.S. major in Sustainable Plant Systems.

The SWES Department also offers graduate degree training leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Soil, Water and Environmental Science, with focal areas in either Environmental Science or Soil and Water Science. Graduate study in the SWES Department is open to students with undergraduate preparation in biological, chemical, physical and/or earth sciences, as well as engineering.

Programs in the SWES department are generally developed around four major areas of focus: (1) Critical Zone Science, (2) Water Quality Security and Sustainability, (3) Pollution Dynamics and Mitigation, and (4) Arid and Semi-Arid Agriculture.

We appreciate your interest in the SWES Department. We encourage you to explore this website and let us know if you have any questions or comments.


Jon Chorover
Professor and Head of Department