Welcome & General Information


Welcome to the Graduate Program in Land and Atmospheric Science at the University of Minnesota. The Department of Soil, Water, and Climate created this graduate program in 2009. It is a science-based interdisciplinary program focused on the fundamentals of Earth system processes related to land and atmosphere and their coupled interactions. Students have the option to develop a program based on one of the more traditional areas in atmospheric science or soil science or to design their own interdisciplinary course of study bridging the two disciplines.

Our program has 40 faculty members and a near 1:1 faculty to graduate student ratio. Environmental science topics constitute the majority of research conducted in the department, with a core focus on the emerging area of land-atmosphere interactions. The website for this program is http://www.laas.umn.edu/. The co-directors of the Graduate Study Program are Tim Griffis and David Mulla.


The Land and Atmospheric Science Graduate Program has no formal tracks or emphasis areas, but instead allows students to design a curriculum that addresses their interests within the scope of the program.


Research topics in Land and Atmospheric Science are diverse and highly interdisciplinary. Graduate students and faculty work together on both applied and basic science problems. Current research is focused on: biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus; impacts of climate variation on natural and managed ecosystems; the sources, transport, and fate of pollutants in soil, air, and water; improving and protecting land, air, and water quality; developing sustainable agricultural practices to ensure high quality agricultural products; and modeling the complex interactions between the land and atmosphere.

Research in LAAS is funded through many sources including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, United States Department of Agriculture, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State Agencies, Commodity groups, endowments and other sources.

Department of Soil, Water, and Climate

The Department of Soil, Water, and Climate currently has a total of 31 faculty members - 28 are on the St. Paul Campus and one each is located at the branch Research and Outreach Centers at Crookston, Lamberton and Waseca. USDA-ARS scientists also hold adjunct professorships in Land and Atmospheric Science. They participate fully in all departmental activities, including guiding graduate students and serving on departmental committees, but do not teach formal courses. We participate in two of the undergraduate majors in the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences:

Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management
Agricultural Industries and Marketing

The Department occupies the entire Soil Science Building and a portion of Borlaug Hall and Crops Research Building. Faculty members in similar subdisciplinary areas are generally located together. Thus:

The 5th floors of Borlaug Hall and Soil Science are predominantly occupied by Soil Morphology and Genesis, Environmental Biophysics, and Atmospheric Sciences, plus a major laboratory in soil humus and nitrogen research.

Soil Chemistry and Fertility occupies the 4th floor of both Borlaug Hall and Soil Science and part of the 2nd floor of Soil Science, where the Extension faculty are also located. Administrative offices are located on the 4th floor of Borlaug Hall, the main office is located in 439 Borlaug Hall.

The classrooms are located on the 3rd floor of Borlaug Hall, and teaching labs as well as the faculty in Climatology are on the 3rd floor of Soil Science.

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