Environmental Informatics - Geospatial Data Science

In recent decades, with the explosion in the amount of available spatial environmental data, informatics and ‘data science’ have become increasingly important. Data science technologies are fast-tracking sustainability efforts from forestry to landscape mapping, watershed ecology to archaeology, pollution detection to geology, and everything in between. Professionals and researchers who can manipulate and analyze complex environmental data are in high demand.

The interdisciplinary Environmental Informatics field of study prepares industry leaders to develop and use analytical and computer-based methods to assess and protect the Earth’s natural resources. Students learn to apply these principles across fields as diverse as social sciences, policy analysis, business, sustainable systems, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem management.

“Environmental Informatics, and GIS in particular, helps us better visualize and understand our world. I chose SEAS because of it embraces both the beauty of nature and the beauty of logic, where students from different backgrounds find a welcoming place and work together.”

—Jade Huang, Environmental Informatics student track leader


As an Environmental Informatics student, you will learn both the theory and the applications of advanced computational and analytical techniques. This program is distinctive because it combines training in digital and computer tools with application of those tools to a wide range of issues across other fields of study at SEAS. The hallmark of our program is that it is interdisciplinary, meaning you will work with other students pursuing studies as diverse as conservation ecology, environmental justice, and environmental policy and planning.

Coursework covers four key areas: GIS, satellite remote sensing, statistics, and modeling. In the study of remote sensing, combined lecture and laboratory venues acquaint you with physical principles, types of sensors, methods of image analysis and classification, and applications of remote sensing for the identification and solution of environmental problems. In GIS laboratories, you will learn how to plan, design, and execute a GIS project for natural resource management and become proficient in the use of mapping software. Many students also combine their study of informatics with another field of study in SEAS; our curriculum is designed not only to teach you to use these tools but also to apply them in an environmental domain of your choice. 

Course Sampling


Through the Environmental Informatics field of study, you can prepare for a wide range of careers in academic research or professional environmental management. Natural resource agencies, NGOs, and nonprofits are increasingly looking for graduates with the training to analyze digital geospatial data. Recently, a U.S. Department of Labor study cited geo-technologies as a major area of future job growth.

Environmental Informatics graduates become remote sensing specialists, area foresters, refuge managers, environmental consultants, conservation and wildlife information specialists, restoration planners, and more.

For more information on Environmental Informatics, visit the EI track careers page or contact seas-admissions@umich.edu .