Environmental Studies

  • ENV Alum Matt Chorney (right with poledigger) plants trees in Camden, NJ.

Matthew Chorney

ENV alum pursues medical passion.


Biology/Environmental Studies

Current Position

Second-year medical student at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

Graduate School & Degree

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)


A lot of people often ask me how my degree in Environmental Studies relates to a career in medicine.  While the two fields may seem distinctly different, the environment in which we live in has a profound impact on human health.  Respiratory disorders, such as anthracosis and silicosis, are seen in areas of the world with increased air pollution and urbanization.  In recent years, suburbanization has altered the habitat for deer, and lead to an increased incidence of Lyme’s Disease in communities where deer are in constant contact with suburban environments.  In addition, my Environmental Studies education taught me how community gardens and local agriculture can provide healthy diets to those living in urbanized environments.  Camden, NJ used to be a food desert where access to healthy produce was severely limited; which lead to an increase incidence of diabetes and hypertension among many residents.  Now there are community gardens throughout the city supplying families with healthy eating choices.  As a future physician, it is important to understand how the environment in which I practice will impact the health and well-being of my patients.  Understanding the local agricultural resources is important when educating patients on healthy eating options.  Recognizing that many common respiratory diseases are a result of urbanization and air pollution is critical for public health management.  Being a physician requires an ability to observe and analyze complex medical problems from various angles, and I believe my Environmental Studies degree has taught me the skills necessary to solve these problems and be a well-rounded physician.                                                       

Impact of Ursinus

My experience at Ursinus  impacted me tremendously and allowed me to pursue a career in medicine.  I learned the skills necessary to think critically and analyze complex problems both socially and scientifically.  The interdisciplinary structure of the Environmental Studies program taught me how to apply scientific evidence to solve social and political environmental issues.  I became a well-rounded student with both a BIO/ENV degree and an Art History minor.  But more importantly the faculty provided enthusiastic support for me, and was willing to help me explore my interests in science, art, and medicine.  I owe a lot to my professors, who taught me the value of being an open-minded, well-rounded student.

Piece of Advice

My advice for all students who wish to make the best of their Ursinus experience is to be open to all majors and explore what you have a passionate interest for.  I entered Ursinus not having a clue what I wanted to major in, so I casted a wide net in both the sciences and humanities.  In doing so, I discovered a fascination in the arts I never knew existed, and learned how to combine my interests in art and science towards a career in medicine.  

Paying It Forward

One of the unique advantages of attending Cooper Medical School of Rowan University is its strong commitment to community engagement with the residents of Camden, NJ.  I have been fortunate to participate in local tree planting efforts throughout the city.  The New Jersey Tree Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to planting trees in New Jersey’s most under-served neighborhoods.  Partnering with them has allowed me to continue to apply the skills and knowledge gained from my Environmental degree, as well as give back to the City of Camden.