The objectives of this course are (1) to provide a mechanistic and qualitative understanding of biogeochemical processes in aquatic environments (in particular oceans) and (2) to describe interactions between microorganisms and the geosphere. The course will focus on organisms that are involved in mineral precipitation and dissolution, organic carbon degradation, and control the distribution of elements, such as C, O, N, P, Mn, Fe, and S in diverse environments at and below the Earth's surface.
This course deals with the interactions between the biosphere and geosphere. The focus is on modern environments and the two-way linkage between organisms and their surroundings. We will cover the basic concepts and approaches in biogeochemistry and the organism involved. The distribution, growth and metabolism of selected organism will be related to the major biogeochemical cycles (e.g. C, N, P, S, Fe) and to processes such as redox transformations and mineral dissolution/precipitation. The course also deals with the basis of molecular techniques, use of isotopes in (microbial) ecology and conceptual models for microbial processes and biogeochemical cycles. The course will be useful for those interested in bioremediation, biogeochemical processes in present and past ecosystems, the effect of climate and global change on the functioning of System Earth. Students will present and discuss debated issues at the interface of the biosphere and geosphere.
Development of Transferable Skills
- Written communication skills: Students are expected to write term papers and a short research proposal.
- Verbal communication skills: Students will present a lecture for the general audience about a recent topic in Biogeochemistry.
- Strong work ethic: students are assigned tasks early in the course with fixed deadlines and have to organize themselves in order to deliver on time.
- Analytical skills: the material offered comprises many aspects and students are supposed to elucidate complex issues crossing disciplinary boundaries.