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In 1995 the Center for Environmental Biotechnology was set up as a multidivisonal center under the direction of Dr. Jenny Hunter-Cevera. In 1998, the Ecology Department was created within the Earth Sciences Division to provide personnel resource management for scientists and engineers within ESD whose expertise was in the general area of ecology, including population ecology, community ecology, systems ecology and environmental engineering. This was a new department, and the personnel were originally scattered among the other ESD departments, though most were under the Center for Environmental Biotechnology. In 1999, the name of the Ecology Department was changed to the Microbial Ecology and Environmental Engineering Department, because it was felt that this more closely reflected the expertise of the small group of scientists and engineers that were within that department. Hydroecological engineering advanced decision support (HEADS) was organized as a new group within the Department in the spring of 2002. This group focused on water and wastewater research, with an initial special emphasis on California water resource issues. The department name was changed back to the Ecology Department in 2004.
The personnel within the Ecology Department are primarily supported by the Environmental Remediation & Water Resources Program; however, they also are supported by the Energy Resources Program and the Climate and Carbon Sciences Program. The personnel in the Ecology Department are also the primary support staff for the Center for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB), which houses all of their offices and laboratory facilities. The expertise that exists within the Ecology Department and the unique facilities provided by the CEB allow the department to provide biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, and environmental engineering support to all ESD programs, in particular to the Environmental Remediation and Water Resources Program, Energy Resources Program, and Climate and Carbon Sciences Program. The current Ecology Department Head is Gary Andersen (pictured above with prior Ecology Department Head Terry Hazen in the background).