Columbia's new Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, E3B for short, has attracted substantial interest from students in its short life, receiving 100 applications for nine spaces in its doctoral program and enrolling 13 new candidates for the master's degree in conservation biology for a total of 20 overall. In addition, 28 undergraduates have declared majors in the department, which came into being last fall.
The department, which is led by Marina Cords, a zoologist and expert on primate ecology and social behavior, was created to expand the University's capacity for research in and training of a new generation of practitioners and scholars in ecology, evolution and environmental biology. Study in these fields had previously taken place across other departments.
The department expands Columbia's position in the biological sciences with its focus on higher levels on biological integration and in environmental sciences with its focus on biological rather than physical processes.
E3B has added two new courses this semester. Biodiversity, an undergraduate course designed for non-science majors at Columbia College, is taught by Don Melnick, director of the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, and a senior member of the new department. A graduate course on disease ecology and conservation is being jointly taught by two conservation practitioners, Alonso Aguirre, director of conservation medicine at the Wildlife Trust, and Sharon Deem of the Wildlife Conservation Society. The course will cover wildlife diseases, disease ecology, disease and conservation, ecosystem health and conservation medicine.