GEOS 411
Geobiology Fall 2018
Division III
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Geobiology–the study of interactions between earth and life over geologic timescales–is a new and interdisciplinary field that has grown out of exciting advances in earth and life sciences. During this course we will examine the many ways in which organisms — from bacteria to trees — have left their mark on our planet. Topics include the origin of life, the rise of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere, the evolution of biomineralization, the environmental context for animal evolution, the role of microbial communities in the earth system, the emergence of land plants, and the potential for planet-life interactions elsewhere in our solar system. Geobiology incorporates tools and ideas from geochemistry, paleontology, microbiology, and sedimentology. Class time will be divided between lectures and student-led discussions of primary literature. Labs will be varied and involve everything from growing our own microbial ecosystems to querying online databases and analyzing geological, geochemical, genetic, and paleontological data. Our field trip will take us to Upstate New York where we will sample water from a stratified lake and visit ancient microbial fossil reefs. The final project will involve writing a proposal in small groups on a geobiological topic based on the style and format of a National Science Foundation grant, and presenting the idea to the class.
The Class: Type: seminar; two lecture/seminars a week plus a lab
Limit: 15
Expected: 10
Class#: 1670
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: labs, short papers, final grant proposal and presentation
Prerequisites: GEOS 212 or GEOS 312T; or GEOS 101 + any 200-level GEOS course; or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Senior Geoscience majors
Distributions: Division III
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses

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