The mission of the Department of Watershed Sciences is to foster the discovery, learning and application of knowledge about aquatic and earth resources and their related ecosystems to promote stewardship of the environment. This mission demands the development of relevant research endeavors to enhance our understanding of ecosystems, rigorous educational programs to produce the next generation of scientists and managers, and effective extension and outreach programs that are responsive to public needs. Promotion of a dedicated faculty and staff, recruitment of talented and motivated students, and creation of a stimulating and supportive departmental environment are central to these pursuits.
Water is becoming an increasingly scarce natural resource, and society is making multiple and often competing demands on its use. Water is an especially critical resource in the Intermountain West where its scarcity influences fisheries management, water quality, and the functioning of wildland, agricultural, and urban ecosystems. The Intermountain West also serves as a model for understanding and addressing similar issues around the world. The Department of Watershed Sciences at Utah State University provides the expertise to promote effective and responsible management of water and aquatic resources within natural landscapes. This management requires an understanding of the complex interactions among physical, chemical, and biological processes operating within the biosphere. The goal of our department is to maintain excellent educational, research and outreach programs related to hydrological, biochemical, and ecological interactions that provide linkages among water, land, and air domains.
In our educational programs we strive to have students develop an understanding of the fundamental physical and biological processes that link aquatic, land, and atmospheric components of the biosphere at various spatial and temporal scales and competency in the use of modern computer and analytical tools for quantifying these processes. Students need to be exposed to the perspectives, techniques, and contributions of various environmental science disciplines; taught both specialized technical skills as well as how to manage and integrate various types of information; and taught how to think broadly and work collaboratively. Our department, by combining programs highlighting aquatic and fisheries sciences, watershed science and analyses, and whole-earth systems ecology, efficiently and effectively delivers this education mission. Fisheries students will benefit from a program that emphasizes not only the ecological interactions that drive population dynamics and community organization but also the physical processes that create the habitat that aquatic species inhabit. Students emphasizing watershed and earth systems science benefit from exposure to and understanding of biological issues and ideas important to fishery management and conservation of aquatic species. Education focused on the integration of physical, chemical and biological processes will be enhanced through application of remote sensing and geographical information systems as parts of our academic programs. Experienced-based learning opportunities are readily available through research, co-op, and internship programs.