Department of Natural Sciences

Welcome from the Chair!

I am proud to welcome you to the Department of Natural Sciences. We are a department comprised of faculty dedicated to ensuring that we provide the best possible educational experiences in the fields of Biology, Chemistry, and Water Resources Sciences & Technology (WATR).  Our degree programs prepare students for direct entry into the workplace, teacher certification, or preparation for graduate or other professional school programs. We offer a BA and BS in Biology and Chemistry and we are particularly proud of our Teacher Certification plan in these two programs. This degree plan allows our students to earn their Teacher Certification while earning a BS in either Biology or Chemistry. Within the Biology program, we also offer several different concentrations for those wishing to specialize such as, Cell and Molecular Biology, Ecology, Zoology, or a Pre-Health Professions concentration. In the WATR program, we offer a BAAS or a BS, both of which prepare our students to be workforce-ready through certifications or licensure.  Regardless of the field or pathway, we emphasize critical thinking in our teaching, and we teach our students to become life-long learners.

I would like to highlight that undergraduate research, where students work directly with, and are mentored by professors on topical research problems, is a cornerstone of our departmental vision.  We would not be able to enact this vision if it were not for the dedication of the faculty in our department. Our faculty are leading scientists in their field but are also committed to providing a learning environment that allows our students to reach their full potential. Dr. Davida Smyth, in biology, is internationally known for her research on wastewater surveillance to detect COVID-19 and at the same time is heavily involved in the STEM education improvement consortium “Science Education, democracy, and civic engagement” (SENCER). Dr. Walter Den, who studies “anything and everything about water and the water environment”, is the PI for an NSF grant that provides significant research scholarships to first-year students interested in studying water. Dr. Bob Shelton in chemistry has conducted research on how students learn chemistry and dedicates his summers to teach students in a study abroad chemistry course in England (History of Science). These are just three of the 20 amazing faculty members we have in our department so I encourage you to check all of the faculty profile pages and what their interests are.      

An exciting development in our department is that we have two relatively new graduate programs! We offer a MS in Water Resources Sciences and Technology or and MS in Biology. In both graduate programs, we strive to provide internal and external funding sources as well as tuition help through waivers or scholarships. Most of our graduate students (and many of our undergraduates) have presented their research at regional and national conferences, with many winning awards and scholarships! 

It was a pleasure to introduce you to the Department of Natural Sciences at A&M-SA! My door is always open – please stop by.  I am happy to answer any questions you might have!


Megan Wise de Valdez, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Natural Sciences

Office: (210) 784-2218
Science and Technology Building, Suite 311
One University Way
San Antonio, TX 78224




Water Resources Science and Technology