Introduction to Environmental Science (EVR 1001): This course provides an overview of the key themes in the environmental sciences and covers a broad range of topics including the unique Earth, biogeochemical cycles, ecosystems, biodiversity, climate change, human population, fossil fuels, energy alternatives, agricultural and water issues, waste management, environmental health as well as an introduction to environmental policy and economics. By the end of the class students will be able to describe the relationships between components of the natural world and the effect of the built world upon it. Be able to analyze environmental problems and identify the risks caused by them and have a basic knowledge of hazardous materials. Students will understand basic concepts of air and water pollution, especially nutrient pollution and be able to describe solid and liquid waste disposal and treatment issues. In addition the course addresses the scientific method and reasoning. Students will demonstrate the ability to think critically and cogently about causal relationships with scientific reasoning, assess previous experimentation and published scientific results and critically examine and evaluate scientific observation, hypothesis or model construction. Finally, students will use scientific perspectives to evaluate contemporary problems facing society.
Wetland and River Biogeochemistry (OCE 4930 / OCC 5930): This upper-level undergraduate / graduate course encompasses the hydrology and ecology of wetlands and rivers that lead to their important roles in biogeochemical cycles. The biogeochemical features of wetlands are described as well as adaptations to the wetland environment that lead to key functions of wetlands in carbon and nutrient cycles. An overview of riverine runoff, erosion and delivery to the coastal ocean and how temporal variability (short-term, long-term and events) impact biogeochemical cycles is covered in detail. The coupling of terrestrial and aquatic environments is emphasized to provide a holistic view of carbon and nutrient cycling (i.e. there are no disciplinary boundaries). Examples of human impacts on both wetland and riverine biogeochemistry are described and management and mitigation strategies discussed.
Organic Geochemistry of Natural Waters and Sediments (OCE 4930/ OCC 5930): This upper-level undergraduate / graduate course is a chemistry focused class but also covers a significant amount of oceanography, geology and biology. This course provides an overview of the sources of natural organic matter (NOM) on Earth, the important reactions and transport mechanisms that control the biogeochemical cycling of this material, and in particular how anthropogenic perturbations (burning of fossil fuels, climate change) will affect these cycles. The field of organic geochemistry of natural waters and sediments has progressed in tandem with advances in analytical chemistry and the class will cover a range of analytical techniques from mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, optical spectroscopy, stable and radioactive isotopes and ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry (e.g. FT-ICR MS) as applied to environmental samples. We will also cover chemical biomarker applications both with respect to natural and anthropogenic biomarkers. The application of cutting-edge analytical chemistry techniques to characterize NOM will be emphasized and insights from these techniques on anthropogenic impacts on terrestrial and aquatic environments will be discussed.
Geomorphology and Geochemistry (OCC5930): This graduate course is focused on physical, chemical and biological phenomena on the Earth’s surface, and the dynamic interactions between air, water, soil, and sediments. The broader aim is to better understand how human activities are altering Earth’s surface processes, and provide the basis for predicting impacts on human and ecosystem health. Students will learn fundamental processes and then relevant analytical techniques to undertake both geomorphological and geochemical based research. Interdisciplinary science is brought to the forefront and students are encouraged to think across traditional disciplinary boundaries.