Fall 2014, Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters
Well-designed and accurate chemical, ecological and geological measurements are key to assessing the biogeochemistry of natural ecosystems. This is a field- and laboratory-intensive science program designed for students with solid preparations in general chemistry, biology, geology and precalculus math who want to pursue more advanced investigations of bio-geo-chemical systems. Students will study statistics, geochemistry, analytical chemistry, freshwater ecology and GIS programming. Instrumental techniques of chemical analysis will be developed in an advanced laboratory. Program work will emphasize quantitative analysis, quality control procedures, research design and technical writing.
During fall and winter quarters, we will address topics in carbon and nutrient cycling in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, in addition to analytical chemistry, GIS, statistics and instrumental methods of chemical analysis. Students will participate in group projects studying water quality, trophic structure, organic matter and nutrient cycling processes of local watersheds. Analytical procedures based on EPA, USGS and other guidelines will be utilized to measure major and trace anion and cation concentrations and weathering rates in natural systems, and to measure analytes and phytochemicals critical to quantification of leaf-litter decay processes and marine-derived inputs to ecosystem function in freshwater systems. Computers and statistical methods will be used extensively for data analysis and simulation, as well as for work with GIS.
In the fall, there will be a week-long field trip to collect natural waters from diverse sites in Eastern Washington. These samples will form the basis for testing and evaluating chemical analysis methods and for developing a quantitative assessment of the geochemistry of the waters. In the winter, students will collect and analyze samples from a suite of ecosystem compartments (e.g., soil horizons, leaves, woody debris, streams, biota) to quantify nutrient storage and cycling on the landscape.
Spring quarter will be devoted to extensive project work building on skills developed in the fall and winter. Students will conduct hypothesis-driven experimental design, sample collection, analysis, and statistical interpretations prior to presenting their results in both oral and written form to conclude the year.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day