MEDS Course Timeline and Descriptions

Summer Intensive Courses

All MEDS students will complete 12 units of intensive coursework (early August through mid-September) to start the program. Summer courses will be held at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in downtown Santa Barbara.

Course number Course title Units Description Instructor
EDS 212 Essential Math for Environmental Data Science 2 Review of quantitative methods that are commonly used in environmental science. The course will cover single and multivariable functions and graphing, basic linear algebra, complex numbers, integral calculus and simple differential equations. Ruth Oliver
EDS 221 Scientific Programming Essentials 4 This course teaches key scientific programming skills and demonstrates the application of these techniques to environmental data analysis and problem solving. Topics include structured programming and algorithm development, flow control, simple and advanced data input-output and representation, functions and objects, documentation, testing and debugging. The course will be taught using a combination of the R and Python programming languages. Ruth Oliver
EDS 214 Analytical Workflows and Scientific Reproducibility 2 The generation and analysis of environmental data is often a complex, multi-step process that may involve the collaboration of many people. Increasingly tools that document and help to organize workflows are being used to ensure reproducibility, shareability, and transparency of the results. This course will introduce students to the conceptual organization of workflows (including code, documents, and data) as a way to conduct reproducible analyses. These concepts will be combined with the practice of various software tools and collaborative coding techniques to develop and manage multi-step analytical workflows as a team. Julien Brun
EDS 217 Python for Environmental Data Science 4 This course teaches the fundamentals of programming in Python. Students will learn foundational skills and concepts including data structures, programming basics, and how to clean, subset, aggregate, transform and visualize data. Course materials demonstrate the application of these techniques for environmental data analysis and problem solving. Kelly Caylor

Fall Quarter

Note: Fall, Winter and Spring courses will utilize both of the MEDS campuses (UC Santa Barbara and NCEAS), which are ~11 miles (~20 minutes driving, ~30 minutes by bus) apart from each other. Students will only ever have planned activities at one of the campus locations on any given day.

Course number Course title Units Description Instructor
EDS 220 Working with Environmental Datasets 4 This hands-on course explores widely used environmental data formats and Python libraries for analyzing diverse environmental data. Students will gain experience working with popular open data repositories and cloud platforms to source and analyze real-world environmental datasets. The course will also serve as an introduction to Python programming and provide opportunities to practice effective communication of the strengths and weaknesses of students’ data products and analyses. Carmen Galaz García
EDS 222 Statistics for Environmental Data Science 4 This course teaches a variety of statistical techniques commonly used to analyze environmental data sets and quantitatively address environmental questions with empirical data. The course covers fundamental statistical concepts and tools, including sampling and study design, linear regression, inference, and time series analysis, as well as foundational concepts of spatial and space-time dependency and associated impacts on inference. Tamma Carleton
EDS 223 Geospatial Analysis & Remote Sensing 4 This course introduces the spatial modeling and analytic techniques of geographic information science to data science students. The emphasis is on deep understanding of spatial data models and the analytic operations they enable. Recognizing remotely sensed data as a key data type within environmental data science, this course will also introduce fundamental concepts and applications of remote sensing. In addition to this theoretical background, students will become familiar with libraries, packages, and APIs that support spatial analysis in R. Ruth Oliver
EDS 242 Ethics & Bias in Environmental Data Science 2 This course will focus on ethical considerations in collecting, using, and reporting environmental data, and how to recognize and account for biases in algorithms, training data, and methodologies. Students will also examine the human and societal implications of these issues within environmental data science. Anastasia Quintana

Winter Quarter

Course number Course title Units Description Instructor
EDS 232 Machine Learning in Environmental Science 4 Machine learning is a field of inquiry devoted to understanding and building methods that ‘learn’, that is, methods that leverage data to improve performance on some set of tasks. In this course, we focus on the core concepts of machine learning that beginning ML researchers must know. We cover ‘classical machine learning’ primarily using R, and explore applications to environmental science. To understand broader concepts of artificial intelligence or deep learning, a strong fundamental knowledge of machine learning is indispensable. Mateo Robbins
EDS 240 Data Visualization & Communication 4

Effectively communicating your work in a responsible, accessible and visually-pleasing way is often (if not, always) a central part of data science. This course will focus on the basic principles for effective communication through data visualization and using technical tools and workflows for creating and sharing data visualizations with diverse audiences.

By the end of this course, learners should be able to:

  • Identify which types of visualizations are most appropriate for your data and your audience
  • Prepare (e.g. clean, explore, wrangle) data so that it’s appropriately formatted for building data visualizations
  • Build effective, responsible, accessible, and aesthetically-pleasing, visualizations using the R programming language, and specifically {ggplot2} + ggplot2 extension packages
  • Write code from scratch and read and adapt code written by others
  • Apply a DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) lens to the process of designing data visualizations
  • Assess, critique, and provide constructive feedback on data visualizations
Samantha Csik
EDS 241 Environmental Policy Evaluation 2 This course will present state of the art program evaluation techniques necessary to evaluate the impact of environmental policies. The program evaluation methods presented will aim at identifying and measuring the causal effect of policies, regulations, and interventions on environmental outcomes of interest. Students will learn the research designs and methods for estimating causal effects with experimental and non-experimental data. This will prepare the students for interpreting and conducting high-quality empirical research, with applications in cross-sectional data and panel data settings. TBD
EDS 411A MEDS Capstone Course 4 First quarter of a two-quarter group study/analysis of how to apply data science and tools to an environmental problem. In this quarter, students are expected to work with their project client to finalize project plans, assign individual roles and responsibilities, develop a project design plan and deliverables, and make significant headway on implementing those plans. Carmen Galaz García

Spring Quarter

Course number Course title Units Description Instructor
EDS 213 Databases and Data Management 4 This course will teach students how to store and manage environmental information. The course will focus on relational database structure, schemas and data relationships, and introduce SQL as a means to create and query databases. This course also covers the concept of metadata as well as archiving data products on data repositories to make them available to the broader community. Julien Brun, Greg Janée, Renata Curty
EDS 230 Modeling Environmental Systems 4 Computer-based modeling and simulation for practical environmental problem solving and environmental research. The course will cover both the selection and application of existing models and best practices for designing new models. Topics include conceptual models, static and dynamic models, and models of diffusion, growth and disturbance. Techniques include sensitivity analysis, calibration and model scenario design. Naomi Tague
EDS 231 Text and Sentiment Analysis for Environmental Problems 2 This course will cover foundations and applications of natural language processing. Problem sets and class projects will leverage common and emerging text-based data sources relevant to environmental problems, including but not limited to social media feeds (e.g., Twitter) and text documents (e.g., agency reports), and will build capacity and experience in common tools, including text processing and classification, semantics, and natural language parsing. Mateo Robbins
EDS 411B MEDS Capstone Course 4 Second quarter of a two-quarter group study/analysis of how to apply data science and tools to an environmental problem. In this quarter, students are expected to complete all project plans and deliverables, develop and submit a project repository and technical documentation, give an oral defense of the project, present the research to a general audience. Carmen Galaz García