FCH797 Stable Isotopic Tracers inthe Environment

Welcome to the Stable Isotopic Tracers in the Environment class website

This site contains all the information you will need for the class. The site will be updated frequently and it is your responsibility to check the site for weekly updates and changes to the course.

What's New for 2009?

If you have thought about using stable isotopes in your research then this is the course for you. The course is geared towards understanding stable isotopes and how they can be used for a wide range of research projects including yours. So, you will need to bring your research ideas with you to class. The class will be tailored to the interests of the students and the instructor. You will learn to prepare samples and then analyze them using stable isotope mass spectrometry.

Be prepared to analyze your own samples, so you can get your own data for your research projects.

We will meet in Jahn 122 on Monday Jan 11 at 10.35.


The assignments will be posted on the Assignments page and will include information on due dates, and any other instructions. I will go over these assignments in class.

The class will be run as a discussion class, with all students and instructors actively engaged in the discussions and ideas. Remember, everyone's opinions are valid and should be respected (within limits). The idea is to ask probing questions and discuss the material in an active learning environment. There will be some lectures, but mostly there will be class discussion of the material.

To this end, you must come to class having read all the materials for that class, so that you have a background knowledge to be involved in the discussion. Assignments for each class are to be completed to enhance your reading of the materials and also to involve you in the class.

Please ask as many questions as you want of each other and the instructor.


Mark A. Teece My office in 415 Jahn and you can email me

General course description

Stable isotopes are being increasingly used in ecology, biology, chemistry, and the earth sciences to study processes in the environment. This course provides an introduction to the theory and application of stable isotopes in earth and environmental sciences.  The course will cover the theory of stable isotopes and also a wide range of applications to environmental science, biogeochemistry, earth sciences, biology, hydrology, and ecology.  We will cover aspects of sample collection and analysis and the course will allow students the opportunity to use stable isotope instrumentation.  Through discussions of topics, writing research papers and peer review of other students’ papers, we will learn several aspects of the scientific method.  The course will enhance students understanding of different research approaches and methods and also the importance of clear presentation of information to a broader audience.

There are no pre-requisites for this course, however a knowledge of basic undergraduate level physical chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology is desirable. Basic knowledge of calculus will be assumed.


We will use a lecture –discussion - lab format, where instructor and students both present and discuss original papers on fundamental and applications of stable isotope techniques.