Environmental Analysis

Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Spring 2019
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

geology, earth science, biogeochemistry
Robin Bond
analytical chemistry

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 (taught by Robin Bond and Abir Biswas), 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 (taught by Robin Bond) 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.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

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


Credits per quarter


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.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$600 for an extended overnight field trip in fall quarter.

Upper division science credit:

Up to 48 upper-division science credits may be awarded in the following disciplines: Analytical chemistry, aqueous geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and chemical instrumentation. Contact faculty for further details. 

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Monday, April 1, 2019 - 9:00 am
LAB 2 3221 - Class Lab

Located in: Olympia

2018-08-14description updated to reflect faculty teaching per quarter
2018-08-10overnight field trip fee increased to $600