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.

This year, among their many accomplishments, our students:

  • Mapped potential groundwater pollution from lead and manganese contamination in the City of Maywood, CA. Moved research closer to identifying a source for this long-standing problem with the area’s water supply.
  • Found that affluence, ethnicity and childhood environment shaped what type of nature Los Angeles residents wanted to experience in their urban parks. Thus suggesting city parks should be tailored to neighborhood communities rather than dictated by top-down planning
  • Investigated effectiveness of municipal programs designed to reduce industrial storm water pollution across the Los Angeles Region. Found inconsistent and often incomplete compliance with federal requirements for controlling industrial storm water pollution.
  • 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?

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

2016 Partners

  • City of Los Angeles
  • Climate Action Reserve
  • Environment Now
  • Green Seal
  • Huntington Botanical Gardens
  • Laguna Greenbelt
  • Los Angeles Waterkeeper
  • National Park Service
  • Natural History Museum of LA County
  • Natural Capital Project
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Bay Foundation

Featured Projects

A Global Analysis of the Potential Productivity for Aquaculture

Students: Dan Patel, Miranda Barfield, Kyla Wilson, Lina Yang, Mochi Li, Shannon Miner Advisor: Peter Kareiva Clients: The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), and National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) Our Report, PDF About Our Project Context: Current projections estimate that the global population will surpass nine billion...