Courses

Current Semester

Microbial Life - A Geobiological View
Microbes were the first life forms on Earth and are the most abundant life forms today. Their metabolisms underpin the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other important elements through Earth systems. This course will cover the fundamentals of microbial physiology and ecology and examine how microbial activities have shaped modern and ancient environments, with the goal of illustrating the profound influence of microbial life on our planet for over 3 billion years.
Instructors: Xinning Zhang

 

 

Previous Semester - Spring 2021

Geobiology Seminar
This seminar provides an overview of the rapidly developing field of geobiology, which aims at investigating how life influences and is influenced by Earth processes. Students are expected to present and lead article discussions, construct, peer and panel review NSF-style graduate student fellowship research proposals in the second half of the course. Prerequisites: General chemistry, General Biology, Environmental Microbiology or by instructor permission.
Instructors: Xinning Zhang

Fall 2022 Course Offerings

Atmospheric Radiative Transfer
Structure and composition of terrestrial atmospheres. Fundamental aspects of electromagnetic radiation. Absorption and emission by atmospheric gases. Optical extinction of particles. Roles of atmospheric species in Earth's radiative energy balance. Perturbation of climate due to natural and antropogenic causes. Satellite observations of climate system.
Instructors: Yi Ming, Venkatachalam Ramaswamy
Introduction to Water Pollution Technology
An introduction to the science of water quality management and pollution control in natural systems; fundamentals of biological and chemical transformations in natural waters; indentification of sources of pollution; water and wastewater treatment methods; fundamentals of water quality modeling.
Instructors: Peter Jaffé
Modeling the Earth System: Assessing Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change
This course is an introduction to earth system modeling for students interested in global environmental issues. Students will use results from a model coupling ocean, atmosphere and land to examine how the system responds to human activities and natural climate variations. In small groups, they will brainstorm mitigation and geo-engineering solutions, and assess their impact on future warming and the components of the Earth system (e.g. precipitation patterns, ocean acidification). This course is designed to give students a critical thinking about climate models and climate solutions, their strengths and their limitations.
Instructors: Laure Resplandy
Climate: Past, Present, and Future
Which human activities are changing our climate, and does climate change constitute a major problem? We will investigate these questions through an introduction to climate processes and an exploration of climate from the distant past to today. We will also consider the impact of past and ongoing climate changes on the global environment and on humanity. Finally, we will draw on climate science to identify and evaluate possible courses of action. Intended to be accessible to students not concentrating in science or engineering, while providing a comprehensive overview appropriate for all students.
Instructors: Daniel Sigman
Climate: Past, Present, and Future
Which human activities are changing our climate, and does climate change constitute a major problem? We will investigate these questions through an introduction to climate processes and an exploration of climate from the distant past to today. We will also consider the impact of past and ongoing climate changes on the global environment and on humanity. Finally, we will draw on climate science to identify and evaluate possible courses of action. Intended to be accessible to students not concentrating in science or engineering, while providing a comprehensive overview appropriate for all students.
Instructors: Daniel Sigman
Fundamentals of Solid Earth Science
A quantitative introduction to Solid Earth system science, focusing on the underlying physical and chemical processes and their geological and geophysical expression. Through the course we investigate the Earth starting from its basic constituents and continue though its accretion, differentiation and evolution and discuss how these processes create and sustain habitable conditions on Earth's surface. Topics include nucleosynthesis, planetary thermodynamics, plate tectonics, seismology, geomagnetism, petrology, sedimentology and the global carbon cycle. Two field trips included (depending on Covid).
Earth's Atmosphere
This course discusses the processes that control Earth's climate - and as such the habitability of Earth - with a focus on the atmosphere and the global hydrological cycle. The course balances overview lectures (also covering topics that have high media coverage like the 'Ozone hole' and 'Global warming', and the impact of volcanoes on climate) with selected in-depth analyses. The lectures are complemented with homework based on real data, demonstrating basic data analysis techniques employed in climate sciences.
Instructors: Stephan Fueglistaler
Earth History
This course seeks to understand the 'how' of Earth history by integrating many branches of Earth system science including geochronology, paleomagnetism, tectonics, petrology, paleoclimate, sedimentology, geochemistry, and geobiology. Through a detailed study of the relevant datasets, models, and theories, students in this course will engage and struggle with these seemingly disparate fields to arrive at a better understanding of how an imperfect geologic record can be used to produce an accurate representation of our planet's history.
Instructors: John Higgins
Environmental Chemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems
Covers topics including origin of elements; formation of the Earth; evolution of the atmosphere and oceans; atomic theory and chemical bonding; crystal chemistry and ionic substitution in crystals; reaction equilibria and kinetics in aqueous and biological systems; chemistry of high-temperature melts and crystallization process; and chemistry of the atmosphere, soil, marine and riverine environments. The biogeochemistry of contaminants and their influence on the environment will also be discussed.
Instructors: Satish Myneni
Mineralogy
Minerals are the fundamental building blocks of the Earth. Their physical, chemical, and structural properties determine the nature of the Earth and they are the primary recorders of the past history of the Earth and other planets. This course will provide a survey of the properties of the major rock-forming minerals. Topics include crystallography, crystal chemistry, mineral thermodynamics and mineral occurrence. Emphasis will be on the role of minerals in understanding geological processes. Laboratories will focus on developing an understanding of crystallography, structure-property relationships, and modern analytical techniques.
Instructors: Thomas Duffy