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Departments & Programs


Contaminant and Nutrient Cycling

From major elements such as carbon and nitrogen to trace elements such as arsenic and uranium, faculty and students in the ESS department study the biological, chemical, and physical processes driving their cycling through land systems (including soils, lakes, streams, and groundwater), oceans, and atmosphere.

Related Courses

EESS 155. Science of Soils
Physical, chemical, and biological processes within soil systems. Emphasis is on factors governing nutrient availability, plant growth and production, land-resource management, and pollution within soils. How to classify soils and assess nutrient cycling and contaminant fate. Recommended: introductory chemistry and biology. GER: DB-NatSci 4 units, Spr (Fendorf, S.)

EESS 158. Geomicrobiology
How microorganisms shape the geochemistry of the Earth's crust including oceans, lakes, estuaries, subsurface environments, sediments, soils, mineral deposits, and rocks. Topics include mineral formation and dissolution; biogeochemical cycling of elements (carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and metals); geochemical and mineralogical controls on microbial activity, diversity, and evolution; life in extreme environments; and the application of new techniques to geomicrobial systems. Recommended: introductory chemistry and microbiology such as CEE 274A. 3 units (Francis, C.)

EESS 250. Elkhorn Slough Microbiology
(Formerly GES 270.) The microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of Elkhorn Slough, an agriculturally-impacted coastal estuary draining into Monterey Bay. The diversity of microbial lifestyles associated with estuarine physical/chemical gradients, and the influence of microbial activity on the geochemistry of the Slough, including the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and metals. Labs and field work. Location: Hopkins Marine Station. 3 units, Sum (Francis, C.)

EESS 253S. Hopkins Microbiology Course
(Formerly GES 274S.) Four-week, intensive. The interplay between molecular, physiological, ecological, evolutionary, and geochemical processes that constitute, cause, and maintain microbial diversity. How to isolate key microorganisms driving marine biological and geochemical diversity, interpret culture-independent molecular characterization of microbial species, and predict causes and consequences. Laboratory component: what constitutes physiological and metabolic microbial diversity; how evolutionary and ecological processes diversify individual cells into physiologically heterogeneous populations; and the principles of interactions between individuals, their population, and other biological entities in a dynamically changing microbial ecosystem. Prerequisites: CEE 274A,B, or equivalents. 9-12 units, Sum (Francis, C. & Spormann, A.)

EESS 256. Hopkins Microbiology Course
(Graduate students register for 256.) Practical and quantitative treatment of soil processes affecting chemical reactivity, transformation, retention, and bioavailability. Principles of primary areas of soil chemistry: inorganic and organic soil components, complex equilibria in soil solutions, and adsorption phenomena at the solid-water interface. Processes and remediation of acid, saline, and wetland soils. Recommended: soil science and introductory chemistry and microbiology. 1-4 units (Fendorf, S.)

EESS 259. Environmental Microbial Genomics
The application of molecular and environmental genomic approaches to the study of biogeochemically-important microorganisms in the environment without the need for cultivation. Emphasis is on genomic analysis of microorganisms by direct extraction and cloning of DNA from natural microbial assemblages. Topics include microbial energy generation and nutrient cycling, genome structure, gene function, physiology, phylogenetic and functional diversity, evolution, and population dynamics of uncultured communities. 1-3 units, Win (Francis, C)

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