Academics & Research

Oxy student taking water samples in a river

At Oxy it's easy to incorporate sustainability themes into your education. Below are some related academic programs and faculty researchers.



Urban and Environmental Policy

An interdisciplinary major that combines politics, planning, environmental policy, public health, urban studies, economics, sociology, and other disciplinary approaches. Topics covered include housing and community development; food and resource issues; air and water quality; race, gender and class relations; public health; globalization; and other topics at the local, state, national and international levels.


Urban and Environmental Policy

The UEP minor provides the opportunity for students to understand the interconnection between "urban" and "environmental" and that issues of economic and environmental justice are integrally linked to where and how we live, work, play, eat, and go to school.


Environmental Science

Explore earth processes and ecosystems as you develop environmental analysis and problem-solving skills. Undertake an Environmental Science concentration within either the Biology or Geology major.

Marine Biology

Biology majors can pursue a marine biology emphasis, researching topics ranging from molecular methods for classification of marine bacteria to the effects of global warming on fisheries.


Environmental Economics

The relationship between the economy and the environment can be pursued through elective courses as a focus within the Economics major.

Food Studies

From a student-run organic garden to research on flavor and how the human mind processes it, the Food Studies Cluster at Occidental seeks to critically examine our relationship with food.



Sustainability is a topic that traverses a wide range of fields, not limited to only the sciences. Check out the 2017-18 sustainability course list.




Elizabeth Braker

Braker’s research interests include the ecology and evolution of relationships between plants and insects, host plants and life histories of grasshoppers, and tropical biology and conservation.

John McCormack

McCormack seeks to unite natural history collections with genomic techniques to explore the evolutionary origins of species. His research questions involve how biodiversity is generated and the evolutionary relationships of organisms.

Gretchen North

North investigates how plants cope with physically challenging conditions with an emphasis on the water relations of arid-land plants and plants in the rainforest canopy.

Daniel Pondella

Pondella’s research interests include the ecology of California marine fishes, with an emphasis on the Southern California bight; the evolution of marine fishes in the tropical eastern Pacific; and the life history of fishes, including species from the Gulf of California.

Amanda Zellmer

Zellmer’s research focuses on the utility and development of computational methods for studying spatial ecological and evolutionary processes, particularly in the context of conservation biology.


Bevin Ashenmiller

Ashenmiller is an environmental economist whose research falls into three areas: recycling, evaluation of environmental programs, and energy and climate policy.


Darren Larsen

The majority of Larsen’s research involves investigating sedimentary archives to develop a greater understanding of Earth’s climate system and surface processes. He is also interested in landscape evolution and the interaction of living organisms with their physical environment.

Chris Oze

Oze’s research revolves around ultramafic and mafic rocks and the processes these rocks undergo making their way to the surface. His investigations delves into a variety of matters including climate change, discovery of new energy resources, and carbon sequestration.

James Sadd

Sadd utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other geospatial and statistical tools in his research to evaluate environmental problems (e.g. human exposure to environmental hazards, patterns or health risk and vulnerability, and environmental justice/equity). He also works on questions related to coastal erosion and marine habitat distribution.


Clair Morrissey

Morrissey is a moral philosopher who specializes in practical ethics and political philosophy, with areas of interest in bioethics, environmental ethics, and aesthetics.

Religious Studies

Keith Naylor

Naylor’s recent research interests include reassessment of the social gospel movement, environmental ethics, and the “greening” of American religion.


John Lang

Lang’s overarching research goal has been to uncover the social relations surrounding the production and the consumption of food. His book, What’s So Controversial about Genetically Modified Food?,  explores the science—and myth—that surrounds genetically modified food to help us understand what is at stake.

John Chung-En Liu

Liu is interested in economic sociology, environmental sociology, development, and globalization. He works across disciplines to address intellectual questions and practical concerns about the environment and climate change.

Urban and Environmental Policy

Peter Dreier

Dreier has been involved in urban policy as a scholar, government official, reporter, and advocate for 30 years. He writes widely on American politics and public policy, specializing in urban politics and policy, housing policy, community development, and community organizing.

Mijin Cha

Cha’s research interests encompass the areas of climate justice, environmental justice, labor movements, and the intersection of labor and climate justice.

Martha Matsuoka

Matsuoka '83 focuses her research on issues such as metropolitan regionalism, sustainable community development, social movements, and environmental justice.

Bhavna Shamasunder

Shamasunder conducts research at the intersection of environmental health and justice with a focus on inequalities faced by low-income communities and communities of color who live and work in urban and/or industrial environments.