UTEP introduces a new degree program to keep up with the demands of our changing climate


Courtesy of UTEP

The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Science opened the spring 2020 semester with its newest undergraduate degree offering – a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB). The new degree is the campus’ latest effort in an ongoing mission of providing competitive academic and research opportunities at one of the most reasonable prices for a U.S. top tier university.

Margaret Cataldi, Staff Reporter

The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Science unveiled its latest undergraduate degree at the start of the spring 2020 semester – a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB). Under this new program, students will be able to understand the processes of life and more specifically, how these processes are transforming in the current context of our Earth’s changing climate.

“This is a field that’s essential now as our climate is changing animals, plants, and all kinds of life on Earth are facing new ecological challenges. To understand how they may adapt and respond to these changes, you need an understanding of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,” said Elizabeth Walsh, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences and the Director of the EEB program.

The EEB degree was previously offered as a concentration within the Department of Biological Sciences. But after consultation with the College of Science Dean’s office, it was decided that there was sufficient demand from students to create a stand-alone undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Five new courses are being offered to accommodate the new degree, including an introduction to research in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, a laboratory to accompany the current genetics and evolution courses, and a new class in conservation biology.

“We’re in a mass extinction event right now and many species are threatened,” said Walsh. “Having this opportunity to learn about conservation biology at the undergraduate level would be very helpful for students in our community.” She adds that “this degree will prepare students for graduate school (including UTEP’s EEB doctoral program), jobs with the state and federal government agencies, environmental consulting companies as well as many others.”


Additionally, many of the previously lecture-based classes will now include a hands-on component in which students will be able to embark out into the local Chihuahuan Desert and conduct research.

“When you’re in classes all the time and you’re learning in that format, sometimes it’s nice to get outside and see how what you learn actually applies to the natural living system,” Walsh said. “So this is a degree that allows you to have plenty of opportunities to get out and explore nature and how it works.”

The new EEB program hopes to elevate the importance of its career field to the entire El Paso community. With the variety of employment opportunities that stem from this degree, including jobs in wildlife management, in government agencies like the EPA, or in consulting companies and firms, graduates can rest assure there is no shortage of demand for experts in the EEB field.

Margaret Cataldi may be reached at [email protected]