Dr. Jeremy Qualls

Ph.D. Physics

Science FYE Director

Associate Professor










Our recently-funded NSF funded proposal, S3, focuses on three major efforts to attract and retain STEM majors at SSU. One significant component is to develop and pilot a new integrated freshman year experience Science 120: A Watershed Year to transition students into SSU STEM programs. Faculty from all departments in the School of Science and Technology, SSU Field Stations and Nature Preserves, the Department of Philosophy, and community partners are working closely together to offer this course. Science 120 focuses on solving real-world issues of environmental sustainability with unique hands-on work and outdoor field experiences in the Russian River Watershed and the creek that runs through campus.


This course was designed for any first-year non-biology science major or students interested in developing scientific skills or exploring STEM degree options. The 12-unit, two semester course satisfies general education requirements in critical thinking, biological sciences, mathematics, and laboratory science required of all SSU students. During the first semester, each week consisted of a 50-minute plenary lecture, two 110-minute small group discussion and skill building sessions, and a 3-hour laboratory experience. During the second semester, each week consists of a 50-minute plenary lecture and 5 hours of project-based learning through self-designed projects to solve real problems and answer questions that address community needs. The course is proving to be successful on all levels and our goals are being met. Through the pilot course we have gained deeper insight into the issues and mechanisms for generating a productive STEM program. This first year of the course has been challenging but the evidence of the effectiveness of our approach is encouraging.