This course is designed to introduce undergraduates to the field of biogeochemistry. The material is based on the physical, chemical, and biological processes that govern the elemental composition of the natural environment (including the biosphere,hydrosphere, atmosphere, and lithosphere), and the cycles of matter and energy that transport the Earth's chemical components in time and space. The course is designed primarily as a discussion of topics, however, homework and problem sets foster quantitative analysis so that students can have a taste of real world application of biogeochemical theory. The graduate version is distinguished from the undergraduate by the inclusion of more essay type questions on exams, as well as the additional requirement of a brief research paper for which they also must prepare a short classroom lecture.
Topics that are covered include elemental/nutrient cycles and processes, interactions between elemental cycles, effects and consequences of human activity (e.g., pollution, global warming/climate change), and potential solutions for mitigating impacts at local, regional and global scales. The course text is Mackenzie, F.T. 2011. Our Changing Planet: An Introduction to Earth System Science and Global Environmental Change. 4th Edition. Prentice Hall.
This course is designed as a graduate level study of biogeochemistry with specific application to wetland and aquatic environments. The course is much more focused on processes of nutrient cycling than the undergraduate SWS4223. The audience remains diverse, including students from engineering, agriculture, biological/ecological, and even policy backgrounds. Topics covered include microbial physiology/ecology, elemental cycles and processes, interactions between cycles, effects and consequences of human management activities (e.g., pollution, global warming/climate change), specific application of biogeochemical concepts (identifying nutrient impacts to ecosystems, management and treatment of wastewater, and wetland restoration).
The text for this course is Reddy, K. R., and R. D. DeLaune. 2008. Biogeochemistry of Wetlands: Science and Applications. CRC Press., Boca Raton, Florida. pp. 774. http://www.crcpress.com.
Advanced Biogeochemistry Lab
This course is designed for advanced PhD level graduate students to explore the current topics, theory, and directions of global biogeochemical research.
Focus topics vary from year to year, but the major emphasis is on understanding the coupled nature of biogeochemical cycles as they apply to environmental change.
The course is also intended to prepare graduate students to move beyond basic theory by 1) stimulating hypotheses development based on critical evaluation of the recent literature, 2) improving students communication skills in open discussion and academic presentation settings, and 3) introducing students to the scientific team approach to multidisciplinary research.
Each of the objectives is accomplished through classroom activities (e.g., interactive lecture discussion, and scientific paper and project presentations), as well as independent research (individual and groups). The course culminates in the development of a hypothetical, NSF style research proposal.
Journal Colloquium in Biogeochemistry
This course is designed to help graduate students in environmental science fields develop skills for critical analysis of literature while exploring current topics in biogeochemistry. After a brief overview of the purpose of scientific literature and the basic structure of journal articles, we will discuss recent papers from biogeochemical-related journals in the context of the approach and methodology leading to the conclusions and overall significance of the work. All students are required to lead a discussion of one paper and contribute to the discussion of every paper.