Senior Practicum

The Senior Practicum is a year-long capstone program for all IoES Environmental Science majors and one of the best environmental science and policy educational experiences in the world.

We have designed the Practicum to launch our students into impactful careers. And it works: alumni routinely describe it as the best thing they did as a UCLA student–a life-changing year. In some cases, students go on to work for the clients.

The program pairs teams of five to seven students with a faculty member or other environmental expert. Then it connects them with clients ranging from the Natural Resources Defense Council to Northrop Grumman. 

Real World Solutions

Clients from across the nation come to IoES with environmental systems and sustainability problems. Students conceive and deliver science-based solutions, working in small groups with support from faculty and outside experts. The Practicum empowers our students to take the lead in finding answers to critical questions, such as:

  • How seriously do hydraulic fracturing spills threaten groundwater supplies?
  • Do industrial livestock operations increase antibiotic resistance to critical drugs?
  • Can spectral light reduce the numbers of malarial insects-protecting millions by changing light bulbs?
  • How can we save bobcats and other free-ranging wildlife from pest control poisons?
  • How can a mid-sized California city go carbon neutral?

View our Projects

Real World Clients

Our partners include leaders in government, the non-profit world and business—prominent institutions such as the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, Walt Disney Imagineering and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Clients often return to participate year after year—the Practicum generates valuable information and resources for their missions. Meanwhile, they’re making a valuable contribution by educating the next generation of environmental problem-solvers.

Among their many accomplishments, our students have:

  • Mapped potential groundwater pollution from lead and manganese contamination in the City of Maywood, CA, moving research closer to identifying a source for this long-standing problem with the area’s water supply.
  • Investigated the potential for recreational coastal waters to serve as an under-appreciated reservoir of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), ultimately increasing the likelihood of beachgoers and surfers being exposed to pathogens.
  • Found that affluence, ethnicity and childhood environment shaped what type of nature Los Angeles residents wanted to experience in their urban parks. This suggests city parks should be tailored to neighborhood communities rather than dictated by top-down planning
  • Researched the potential for using sensors mounted on industrial-scale drones to enforce low-sulfur fuel standards for cargo ships in California waters, and detect violations when ships use cheaper, dirtier, illegal fuels that contribute hazardous air pollution to port communities in Los Angeles.
  • Created methodology to identify and assess social, financial, and environmental co-benefits that may stem from carbon offset projects related to livestock operations. Demonstrating the full value of offsets, therefore incentivizing the continuation and expansion of offset programs for both public and private sectors.

Interested in Becoming a Practicum Client?

2020 Partners

  • La Brea Tar Pits and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Centro de Ecología Aplicada de Neuquén and The Nature Conservancy
  • WildEarth Guardians
  • Sustainable Conservation
  • Taylor Guitars
  • Conservation International
  • The Bay Foundation
  • The ADEPT Group, Inc.
  • Bludso’s Bar & Que Restaurant

2019 Partners

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Los Angeles Waterkeeper
  • Taylor Guitars
  • Mountains Restoration Trust
  • The Bay Foundation
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Producers Guild of America – Green (PGA Green)
  • Surfrider Foundation
  • The ADEPT Group, Inc.
  • Los Cerritos Channel Watershed Group
  • Bludso’s Bar & Que Restaurant and the J Howard Restaurant Group
  • The Blue Prosperity Program at UCLA

2018 Partners

  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • Taylor Guitars
  • Theodore Payne Foundation
  • Social Justice Learning Institute
  • City of Santa Monica
  • Environmental Charter Schools
  • Gimball-Prod
  • The Bay Foundation
  • Fetzer Wineries
  • L.A. County Department of Public Health
  • TreePeople
  • Social Justice Learning Institute
  • City of Los Angeles

2017 Partners

  • The Bay Foundation
  • Council for Watershed Health
  • National Park Service – Sequoia National Park
  • National Park Service – Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • STAND L.A.
  • SNAPP (Science for Nature and People Partnership)
  • Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project
  • Sustainable Conservation
  • Taylor Guitars
  • Tejon Ranch Conservancy
  • TreePeople
  • USC Sea Grant