Environmental Analysis

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Fall 2018, Winter 2019, and Spring 2019 quarters

Taught by

geology, earth science, biogeochemistry
analytical chemistry


General chemistry sequence (multiple quarters, ~16 credits), one quarter of college (physical) geology (~4 credits), and one year of college algebra or precalculus mathematics required. Background in biology and additional background in geology are recommended.

Well-designed and accurate chemical, biogeochemical measurements are key to assessing the processes in natural ecosystems. This is a field- and laboratory-intensive science program designed for students with solid preparations in general chemistry, geology, and precalculus math, as well as biology, who want to pursue more advanced investigations of bio-geo-chemical systems. Students will study statistics, geochemistry, analytical chemistry, 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 aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, in addition to analytical chemistry, GIS, statistics, and instrumental methods of chemical analysis. Students will participate in group projects studying water quality, 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, in support of studies of biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and metals through the environment. Computers and statistical methods will be used extensively for data analysis and simulation, as well as for work with GIS. Fall and winter credit equivalencies include analytical chemistry and instrumentation, aqueous geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and field methods in terrestrial biogeochemistry.

In the fall we will take a weeklong field trip to collect natural waters from diverse geochemical regions. These samples will form the basis for testing and evaluating chemical analysis methods and for developing a quantitative assessment of the geochemistry of natural waters. In the winter students will collect and analyze samples from a suite of ecosystem compartments (e.g., soil horizons, leaves, woody debris, 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.

Program Details

Fields of Study

biochemistry chemistry environmental studies field studies geology hydrology

Preparatory For

hydrology, chemistry, earth sciences, chemical instrumentation, environmental analysis and environmental fieldwork.


Fall Open Winter Signature Spring Signature

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$550 for an extended overnight field trip in fall quarter.