Participant Course Goals

Atmospheric Science/Meteorology

  • To be able to analyze and interpret data from a variety of instruments used to measure the atmospheric boundary layer.
  • ...evaluate whether a severe weather event will impact them (and take appropriate action to protect themselves) by properly interpreting severe weather bulletins and weather data.
  • Compare and contrast the behavior of a dry and moist atmosphere.

Climate System/Climate Change

  • Quantitatively interpret and analyze the complex and different roles of air pollutants (gaseous and particulate) in affecting Earth's radiative balance.
  • Synthesize and discuss the implication of air pollution effects for policy and mitigation strategies. Look up scientific research, read graphs, quantify observations, demonstrate through the use of math of the physical factors controlling the climate system, evaluate multiple competing processes, synthesize key facts and processes into a coherent argument, illustrated with examples.
  • Based on knowledge of climate history and a quantitative understanding of climate dynamics, students should be able to critique news stories about modern climate change.
  • Critically evaluate statements about climate change using arguments grounded in physical processes.

Environmental Science

  • Develop and evaluate mathematical representations of surface water, groundwater, and atmospheric systems, including the processes of advection, diffusion, and reaction.
  • Apply simple models to predict future environmental system change.
  • To apply geochemistry concepts to evaluate real world environmental problems.
  • Analyze and interpret geologic data to develop an understanding of future or current environmental change.
  • When students have completed my course, I want them to be able to evaluate how humans have altered the chemistry of Earth's air, water, and soil.
  • When students have completed this course, they should be able to interpret environmental change in the context of Earth history and the interconnectedness of Earth systems.


  • Interpret the chemical and isotopic differentiation of the Earth by using trace element and isotope tools.
  • Students will understand the importance of geochemistry in all geologic subdisciplines.


  • When students have completed my course, I want them to be able to compare and contrast the causes of ill-health and disease between developed and developing countries.
  • Understand the water cycle and how it influences weather, climate, and the local environment.
  • Students will evaluate the natural hazards of an area and identify the impact of human activity on natural disasters.


  • By visual observation (maps, air photos, walk-over survey, etc.), to be able to interpret (or at least make and educated guess) about the geomorphic processes and mechanisms operating on the local landscape; and predict consequences of natural hazards based on that understanding (risks of living around the coast, on a floodplain, on a hill, etc.).


  • Interpret and analyze the physical processes that take place inside the Earth using fundamental physical equations.


  • Demonstrate the application of hydrological measurement techniques.
  • Integrate hydrological processes into environmental problem solving.
  • At the end of a hydrogeology course, I want students to be able to – evaluate the hydrologically relevant properties of a system; predict hydrologic flow characteristics (model); interpret hydrologic flow predictions; apply the above skill in field situations.


  • Design (and create) a reproducible scientific lab experiment/demo that illustrates/explores a concept in oceanography.
  • I want students to be able to describe how physical forcing affects animals in the ocean, in particular their migratory patterns. Also, I want them to take educated guesses about changes in this behavior in response to changes in the environmental setting.


  • Students will synthesize and evaluate methods for reconstructing past climates. (for upper level/grad students)
  • I want students to synthesize the mechanisms of climate variability at different timescales. (grad students)


  • Evaluate modern biodiversity crisis in a geologic and evolutionary context. (overarching)
  • Interpret the popular science literature; interpret graphical representations of scientific data; interpret statistical summaries. (ancillary)


  • The student should be able to analyze and interpret graphical geochemical and mineralogical data.
  • Interpret igneous and metamorphic processes.

Physical Geology/Earth Science

  • When course is completed, student will be able to evaluate and synthesize how earth systems relate to each other; this will be evaluated via experimentation at the end of the semester.
  • Be able to identify landforms/geological features and formulate an explanation of the feature formed.
  • To not flip the channel next time the student lands on a National Geographic special on earthquakes – and to say – "I knew that" to the other person in the room (or themselves) and smile. (intro level for undergraduate non-majors).
  • Integrate multiple Earth Science concepts into an understanding of Earth operates as a coherent system. (Earth System Science)
  • Students will be able to synthesize the major processes operating on the Earth's surface in order to explain their interactions and effects of these processes.

Planetary Science

  • Interpret the differences in the characteristics of the planets.
  • Create and interpret a geologic map of a region of another planet using remotely sensed data.
  • Evaluate a scientific hypothesis.
  • Compare/contrast the evolution of the bodies of the Solar System, including the importance of chemistry/composition and relationship to other bodies (such as the Sun or planets).
  • After successful completion of this class, students will be able to summarize the key events in the evolution of our solar system from the Big Bang to current day.

Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

  • Students will interpret a stratigraphic section in terms of depositional environment and sediment transport mechanisms and integrate these observations to formulate a geological environmental history of an area. (2nd to 3rd yr undergrad)
  • Understand the fundamental processes which govern the fate and transport of sediment and apply this knowledge to gain insight into the environment (both current and the past), as well as have the ability to articulate the importance of course material has to various applications (current environmental issues, geological interpretations, etc.).
  • Students should be able to design studies that use appropriate tools and techniques to analyze stratigraphy. (advanced level)
  • Be able to apply elementary fluid mechanics to understand sediment transport, bedform evolution, and the formation of sedimentary structures.

Soil Science

  • Write and use simple Matlab code to analyze soil chemistry data.

Structural Geology

  • Want students to be able to analyze structures and to compare and contrast competing models of a field area.


  • By the end of the semester, I want my students to be able to critically evaluate scientific claims and be able to design their own investigations to explain the topic better.