Professor giving a lecture in the greenhouse on plants

Facilities & Resources

Our facilities and resources are top-notch.


The Earth and Environmental Sciences department is housed inside the impressive Charles H. Townes Science Center. The center is L.E.E.D. gold-certified and includes a number of sustainable features, including chilled beams that use cold water for cooling, low-flow hoods throughout the building, and treated wastewater for flushing toilets. Our department has its own state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, and our students enjoy access to additional labs in the Biology and Chemistry departments.

Charles H. Townes Science Center

The facilities of the Townes Science Center are state-of-the-art and innovative. You’ll find research laboratories designed especially for watershed science, biogeochemistry, geographic information systems, geology, and hydrogeology. Computer labs and multimedia classrooms fill the 200,000-square-foot complex.

Rock and Botanical Garden

The Rock and Botanical Garden that surrounds the Charles H. Townes Science Center is designed to reflect the geology of the Southern Appalachian region. This teaching tool provides aesthetic beauty and research opportunities for those who major in our department. The garden showcases large rock specimens collected from southeast mines. Visit our rock garden.

Hendricks River Basins Research Initiative Laboratory

This laboratory is the “brain” of River Basins Research Initiative. It contains two computers and has four large tables suitable for research planning with large maps and a small research library. The lab also is the archive for more than a decade of data and paper copies of research article reprints.

Hill Biogeochemistry Laboratory

Water samples are analyzed for a variety of dissolved ions in this laboratory using the following instrumentation:

  • A Dionex 120 ion chromatograph for the measurement of anion concentrations
  • A Tekmar-Dohrman Phoenix 8000 total carbon analyzer for the measurement of dissolved organic carbon concentrations
  • An O.I. Analytical Flow System IV autoanalyzer for the measurement of total dissolved nitrogen concentrations
  • A Turner Designs A10 fluorometer for the measurement of ammonium concentrations
  • A Hach 2000 spectrometer for a variety of other analyses
  • Four Fisher Accumet AR25 benchtop pH meters used for Gran alkalinity titrations
  • Two Millipore Advantage A10 carbon-free water polishing systems
  • A Flow Safe Vortex II fume hood
  • Sartorius CP124S and Element balances
Holder Watershed Research Laboratory

The Holder Watershed Research Laboratory is the headquarters for stream hydrology and biogeochemistry fieldwork. Water samples are filtered, preserved and stored in the lab. Samples are filtered using a custom-made positive pressure filtration apparatus. A Barnstead Nanopure Diamond water polishing system provides organic-free deionized water.

Blackwell GIS Laboratory

Used for general GIS applications, 3D modeling, and statistical analysis, the Blackwell GIS Laboratory has 24 Dell workstations with a dedicated server. Software/hardware includes ArcGIS (ArcMap and ArcInfo), Erdas Imagine, WMS, Jmp, Google Suite, Dreamweaver, Microsoft Office, an HP Designjet 800PS 42″ poster printer, and a Keocera Mita color laser printer. Department majors have card access to this lab 24/7.

Ferris Booth Foundation Geochemistry Laboratory

Currently this laboratory is used for extraction of nitrate from stream water and precipitation via freeze drying as silver nitrate powder. The powder is sent to the University of Waterloo for δ15N and δ18O composition of the nitrate. The laboratory contains two four-foot low-flow hoods, a research quality balance, stirring hot plates, a Barnstead Nanopure Diamond deionized water system, and a freeze drier. It can also be used for sequential extractions of metals from sediments and for the preparation of fused glass disks for XRF analysis.

Ferris Booth Foundation X-ray Laboratory

Students use this laboratory for the identification of mineral content and chemical analysis of rocks, soils, and sediments. It contains a Phillips PW2400 X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and a Rigaku MiniFlex II X-ray diffraction system.

Spatial Analysis Laboratory

Boasting a 16-student workroom with mirror stereoscopes and pocket stereoscopes for 3D analysis of aerial photos and satellite imageries, this laboratory includes two Dell precision workstations and two MacBook Pros (with Windows Vista 64-bit edition dual boot option) with 12 GB RAM and 2 GB video memory and a 24-inch dual monitor for image processing and GIS work.

Sediment Analysis Laboratory

The Sediment analysis Laboratory has a Ro-tap, several sets of sieves, an ultrasonic disaggregator, a Wiley mill, a wrist mill, and a splitter for grain analysis.

Microscopy Sectioning Laboratory

The Microscopy Sectioning Laboratory contains a Buehler Petro-Thin section system, an opaque section polishing system, a Frantz magnetic separator, an Angstrom shatter box, and a disk mill.

Rock Sawing and Crushing Laboratory

This laboratory contains one slab saw, two trim saws, and a jaw crusher.


The greenhouse consists of space for the Biology department and a tidal wetland solar aquatic wastewater treatment system. The wastewater treatment system provides opportunities for student research in nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorous cycling. The department collaborates with Worrell Water Technologies, the designer, on this research.

Student Resources

We offer our students a vast array of resources to assist in their educational pursuits.

Check out our resources
Students taking a photo in front of Rocky Mountains