The SWSD organizes its activities/programs into five Research Areas, which categorize and describe the department's programs and activities in research, teaching, and extension. Each of these areas are intended to fully integrate research, teaching, and extension. The department has committed itself to expertise and resources so that it may make scientific and educational advances in each of these areas.

Nutrient, Pesticide, and Waste Management - Sustainable Agriculture, Precision Farming, Water Quality and Conservation, Waste Management, Waste Water Reuse, and Nutrient Cycling.

Soil, Water, and Aquifer Remediation - Fate and Transport of Emerging Contaminants and Toxic Organics and Metals, In Situ Metal Immobilization, Bioremediation, Phytoremediation, Ecosystem Restoration, Molecular Microbial Ecology, Hydrology, and Groundwater Quality.

Carbon Dynamics and Ecosystem Services– Soil Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Assessment, Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change, Carbon Dynamics and Modeling, Bioenergy, Soil Quality, Microbial and Chemical Diversity, Risk Assessment, and Development and Evaluation of Ecological Indicators.

Landscape Analysis and Modeling – Pedologic Processes, Landscape Hydrology, Geospatial and Geostatistical Models, Mechanistic Models, Remote Sensing, and Geophysical Imaging.

Wetlands and Aquatic Ecosystems – Elemental Cycling and Biogeochemistry, Subaqueous Soils, Wetland Delineation, Soil-Water-Plant Relationships, and Restoration of Wetlands and Lakes.