Undergraduate Courses

Spring 2021

Global Air Pollution
Students will study the chemical and physical processes involved in the sources, transformation, transport, and sinks of air pollutants on local to global scales. Societal problems such as photochemical smog, particulate matter, greenhouse gases, and stratospheric ozone depletion will be investigated using fundamental concepts in chemistry, physics, and engineering. For the class project, students will select a trace gas species or family of gases and analyze recent field and remote sensing data based upon material covered in the course. Environments to be studied include very clean, remote portions of the globe to urban air quality.
Instructors: Mark Andrew Zondlo
Climate and Weather: Order in the Chaos
This course focuses on the relationship between climate and weather events: each weather event is unique and not predictable more than a few days in advance, large-scale factors constrain the statistics of weather events, those statistics are climate. Various climatic aspects will be explored, such as the geographic constraints, energy and water cycling, and oceanic and atmospheric circulation, solar heating, the El Niño phenomenon, ice ages, and greenhouse gases. These climate features will be used to interpret the statistics of a number of weather events, including heat waves, tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) and floods.
Instructors: Gabriel Andres Vecchi
Natural Disasters
An introduction to natural (and some society-induced) hazards and the importance of public understanding of the issues related to them. Emphasis is on the geological processes that underlie the hazards, with discussion of relevant policy issues tied to reading recent newspaper/popular science articles. Principal topics: Earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunami, hurricanes, floods, meteorite impacts, global warming. Intended primarily for non-science majors.
Instructors: Allan Mattathias Rubin
Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate
The ocean and the atmosphere control Earth's climate, and in turn climate and atmospheric changes influence the ocean. We explore what sets the temperature of Earth's atmosphere and the connections between oceanic and atmospheric circulation's including exchanges of heat and carbon. We then investigate how these circulation's control marine ecosystems and the cycling of chemicals in the ocean. The final part of the course focuses on human impacts, including changes in coastal environments and the acidification resulting from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Geochemistry of the Human Environment
Humans have profoundly altered the chemistry of Earth's air, water, and soil. This course explores these changes with an emphasis on the analytical techniques used to measure the human impact. Topics include the accumulation of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) in Earth's atmosphere and the contamination of drinking water at the tap and in the ground. Students will get hands on training in mass spectrometry and spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of air, water, and soil and will participate in an outreach project aimed at providing chemical analyses of urban tap waters to residents of Trenton, NJ.
Instructors: John Andrew Higgins
Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation, Policy
An exploration of the potential consequences of human-induced climate change and their implications for policy responses, focusing on risks to people, societies, and ecosystems. As one example: we examine the risk to coastal cities from sea level rise, and measures being planned and implemented to enable adaptation. In addition, we explore local, national and international policy initiatives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The course assumes students have a basic background in the causes of human-induced climate change and the physical science of the climate system.
Instructors: Michael Oppenheimer
This course serves as an introduction to the processes that govern the distribution of different rocks in the Earth. We learn to make observations from the microscopic to continental scale and relate these to theoretical and empirical thermodynamics. The goal is to understand the chemical, structural, and thermal influences on rock formation and how this in turn influences the plate tectonic evolution of our plant.
Instructors: Blair Schoene
Environmental Microbiology
The study of microbial biogeochemistry and microbial ecology. Beginning with the physical/chemical characteristics and constraints of microbial metabolism, we will investigate the role of bacteria in elemental cycles, in soil, sediment and marine and freshwater communities, in bioremediation and chemical transformations.
Instructors: Bess Ward
Physics and Chemistry of Earth's Interior
This class will introduce students to the modern study of the structure, composition, and evolution of the Earth's interior. We will integrate findings from geophysical observations, laboratory experiments, and computational models to develop a holistic picture of the large-scale behavior of our planet. The course will be divided into four major sections: 1) origin and composition of the Earth; 2) physical and chemical properties of Earth materials; 3) global Earth structure; 4) Earth dynamics. The course will introduce current topics and the latest findings from the scientific literature.
Instructors: Thomas S. Duffy
Introductory Seismology
Fundamentals of seismology and seismic wave propagation. Introduction to acoustic and elastic wave propagation concepts, observational methods, and inferences that can be drawn from seismic data about the deep planetary structure of the Earth, as well as about the occurrence of oil and gas deposits in the crust. Offered every other year.
Instructors: Jeroen Tromp
Environmental Chemistry of Soils
Focuses on the inorganic and organic constituents of aqueous, solid, and gaseous phases of soils, and fundamental chemical principles and processes governing the reactions between different constituents. The role of soil chemical processes in the major and trace element cycles, and the biogeochemical transformation of different soil contaminants will be discussed in the later parts of the course.
Instructors: Satish Chandra Babu Myneni

Graduate Courses

Spring 2021

Atmospheric Chemistry
Natural gas phase and heterogeneous chemistry in the troposphere and stratosphere, with a focus on elementary chemical kinetics; photolysis processes; oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen chemistry; transport of atmospheric trace species; tropospheric hydrocarbon chemistry and stratospheric halogen chemistry; stratospheric ozone destruction; local and regional air pollution, and chemistry-climate interactions are studied.
Instructors: Larry Wayne Horowitz
Responsible Conduct of Research in Geosciences (Half-Term)
Course educates Geosciences and AOS students in the responsible conduct of research using case studies appropriate to these disciplines. This discussion-based course focuses on issues related to the use of scientific data, publication practices and responsible authorship, peer review, research misconduct, conflicts of interest, the role of mentors & mentees, issues encountered in collaborative research and the role of scientists in society. Successful completion is based on attendance, reading, and active participation in class discussions. Course satisfies University requirement for RCR training.
Instructors: Regan Hunt Crotty, Thomas S. Duffy, Frederik Jozef Simons
Fundamentals of the Geosciences
A yearlong survey, in sequence, of fundamental papers in the geosciences. Topics in 505 (Spring) include the origin and interior of the Earth, plate tectonics, geodynamics, the history of life on Earth, the composition of the Earth, its oceans and atmospheres, past climate. Topics in 506 (Fall) include present and future climate, biogeochemical processes in the ocean, geochemical cycles, orogenies, thermochronology, rock fracture and seismicity. A core course for all beginning graduate students in the geosciences.
Instructors: John Andrew Higgins, Adam C. Maloof, Satish Chandra Babu Myneni, Allan Mattathias Rubin, Daniel Mikhail Sigman, Frederik Jozef Simons, Jeroen Tromp, Xinning Zhang
Stable Isotope Geochemistry With An Environmental Focus
Examines the use of stable isotope measurements to investigate important biogeochemical, environmental, and geologic processes, today and over Earth history. Introduction to terminology, basic underlying principles, measurement techniques, commonly used analytical and computational approaches for analyzing data, followed by a review of typical applications of the isotope systems of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements. Lectures by the instructor, problem sets, numerical modeling assignments, student presentations and a final student paper based on readings from the scientific literature.
Instructors: Daniel Mikhail Sigman
Geobiology Seminar
This seminar provides an overview of the rapidly developing field of geobiology, which aims at investigating how life influences and is influenced by Earth processes. Students are expected to present and lead article discussions, construct, peer and panel review NSF-style graduate student fellowship research proposals in the second half of the course. Prerequisites: General chemistry, General Biology, Environmental Microbiology or by instructor permission.
Instructors: Xinning Zhang
Freshman Seminar

FRS 161

How Green is Your Campus?

INSTRUCTORS: Adam Maloof and Frederik Simons

How green is Princeton’s campus? What is the total area of green space, and is all green space of equal quality? In nominally green areas, how diverse is the vegetation, how tall are the trees, how healthy are the leaves, and how permeable is the soil? Each student will be in charge of a square subregion of the campus where they will make a battery of measurements using a diversity of instruments. The ultimate group goal is to build a quantitative digital map of campus greenness. Individual student goals for final research papers can vary from tracking campus greenness through time (seasonally or over the past 90 years using available data sources), comparing Princeton’s campus to other universities (using satellite data where available), assessing the sustainability of Princeton’s expansion plans, or comparing this year’s observations with ongoing monitoring projects such as noise pollution or climate change.  READ MORE