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Washington State University

Facilities & Labs

Advancing Knowledge of Earth, Environment and Ecosystem Sciences

The School of the Environment is fully committed to advancing scientific knowledge of:

  • Water – Connecting Earth and Life
  • Global Change – Sustaining Healthy Landscapes and Communities
  • Earth System Dynamics

Our research efforts are defined by the diverse interests and expertise of our faculty in combination with societal and scientific needs, and reflect the breadth and integration of scientific disciplines represented in the school. Research capabilities are significantly enhanced by collaboration and cooperation with WSU’s multiple campuses, research centers, extension offices, adjunct faculty members, scientists, and an extensive network at other universities and with state/federal agencies.

Plankton experiment

Aquatic Ecology Lab

The Coastal & Estuarine Ecology Lab and the Microbial Aquatic Ecology Lab based out of the WSU-Vancouver campus. Our research is broadly concerned with the ecology of marine and estuarine zooplankton and fish, and spans the sub-disciplines of behavior, population biology, community ecology and ecosystem dynamics.

bear with cub

Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center

The WSU Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center is a one-of-a-kind facility that aims to provide information and understanding for bear conservation around the world. Our research covers a range of disciplines, including nutrition, physiology, ecology, behavior, reproduction, and learning and memory.

causal loop diagram

Collaborative Modeling Lab

Creating a nexus of science and local knowledge through which problems and solutions may be discussed is essential for finding sustainable, consensus-based solutions to environmental problems. The Collaborative Modeling Lab uses of a variety of systems thinking processes and system dynamics modeling techniques to explore endangered species management, ecosystem services, ground and surface water management.

pygmy rabbit

Endangered Species Lab

Research in the Endangered Species Lab emphasizes the ecology, behavior, and population dynamic processes that affect the conservation of biological diversity, especially for threatened and endangered species.

Beach scene

Environmental Hydrodynamics Lab

The Environmental Hydrodynamics Laboratory at WSU Vancouver examines the physics governing natural water flows, mixing, and sediment transport. To study these topics we take a variety of approaches, ranging from extensive field measurements to computer simulations and original theoretical models. In the long run, an improved understanding of Environmental Hydrodynamics might help managers to plan for such problems as coastal pollution, flooding, and erosion, and might help engineers to design better coastal structures (such as jetties and breakwaters).

Salmon river

Ecology Lab

We are a group of ecologists and geomorphologists interested in ecosystem processes and community dynamics. We primarily focus on river ecosystems, but are generally interested in wide range of ecosystems.

Peter Hooper

GeoAnalytical Lab

The Peter Hooper GeoAnalytical Lab has been providing analyses of rocks and minerals to the geologic research community beginning in 1978. Our analytical capabilities include bulk rock and mineral elemental analyses for approximately 50 elements, and measurement of nearly any isotopic ratio. Our equipment includes a Finnigan Neptune and a Finnigan Element2, both with optional laser ablation (New Wave 213 nm) sampling, a Thermo-ARL automated X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF), a Siemens automated X-ray powder diffractometer (XRD), an Agilent inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), a JEOL JXA-8500F field emission electron microprobe/scanning electron microscope, and two automated Finnigan-MAT gas source mass spectrometers.

beach grass

Hydrology, Ecohydrology, and Landscape Dynamics Lab

The Hydrology, Ecohydrology, and Landscape Dynamics research group takes an interdisciplinary view of the linked roles of groundwater, surface water, plant-water interactions, and human water use in the spatially and temporally variable physical, chemical, and biological cycles of the Earth System. Our research addresses key coupled sets of interactions including: Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions; Plant-Water Interactions; Land-Atmosphere Interactions; Land-Ocean Interactions; Human-Water-Environment Interactions


Mammal Spatial Ecology and Conservation Lab

Research in the Dr. Dan Thornton lab integrates field work, ecological theory, and spatial and statistical analyses to address questions concerning: 1) ecology and management of species in fragmented or human-dominated landscapes, 2) influence of climate change and deforestation on populations, 3) large-scale distribution patterns and range dynamics, and 4) the influence of scale on response of species to environmental drivers.

Radiogenic Isotope and Geochronology Laboratory

The Radiogenic Isotope and Geochronology Laboratory is a HEPA Class 1000 Clean Lab that conducts analytical analyses of isotopes using various types of analytical equipment, including the Thermo-Finnigan Element2 HR-ICP-MS, the Thermo-Finnigan Neptune Multi-Collector ICP-MS, and the TELEDYNE Analyte Excite Laser Ablation System (Analyte Excimer 193nm Laser).


Steffen Center

The E.H. Steffen Center is a field and laboratory research and teaching facility. It contains wildlife facilities and pens, a greenhouse-laboratory-shop facility, several small forest plantations, wetlands, uplands, and numerous specialized planting areas. Most of the research conducted at the E. H. Steffen Center has revolved around understanding the nutrition and foraging behavior of herbivores.

Steffen Center and WSU Arboretum Dog Exclusion Zone

To reduce exposure of deer to the sight, sounds, or scent of dogs, while still providing access to students assisted by a legally designated service animal, a Dog Exclusion Zone exists within the Steffen Center and the WSU Arboretum that is warranted and legally justifiable under the provisions of the ADA. Map of dog exclusion zone

collecting samples from lake

Watershed Biogeochemistry Lab

Current and past projects focus on regional nutrient and greenhouse gas dynamics in Mexico’s Yaqui Valley, California’s Central Valley, and in watersheds of the Pacific Northwest.

ponderosa forest

Wildlife Habitat Lab

Established in 1978 by Dr. Jack Nelson, Wildlife Habitat and Nutrition lab performs laboratory services on a contract basis for state, federal, and private natural resource agencies throughout the country.

captive deer

Wild Ungulate Facility

The facility is dedicated to the study of the ecology of wild ungulates (hooved mammals). The Wild Ungulate Facility has supported a variety of research on the nutritional, reproductive and habitat ecology of deer with the goal improving conservation and management of these native species.