Courses

A&S 100/EES 200: On the Rocks - The Geology of Beer, Wine and Spirit Alcohol (UKY Jim Beam Institute Certificate)

An introductory earth systems science course that provides a high-level overview of the environmental and geological factors that influence the production of beer, wine, and spirit alcohol. No prerequisites apart from an interest in the natural world and a passion for more knowledge on the science of alcoholic beverages is required. The course is broken into five sections: (1) science basics, including the details of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, and geosphere (2) geology of beer, (3) geology of wine, (4) geology of distilled spirits, (5) environmental history, and (6) bourbon in the Bluegrass. The focus of sections 2, 3 and 4 are a series of lectures that follows a case study approach. “Famous” bottles of beer, wine, and spirits will be used to contextualize the critical zone of regions across the globe that have become renowned for the production of  alcoholic beverages. In section 5,  we will explore how critical events in environmental history (climate change, wildfires, earthquakes) have influenced these areas.  In module 6, the course will emphasize the unique convergence of environmental and geological conditions in central Kentucky that has allowed the bourbon tradition to flourish.  

BIO199: STEMCats - Exploring Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada (California)

A project based learning seminar for first year, STEM-declared majors. Students use lakes and isotopes to search for evidence of climate change in California's mountain headwaters over the past several hundred years. Skills and expertise are developed in the science of climate change, biogeochemistry, limnology, and alpine ecology in the Sierra Nevada. The course is appropriate for students who care about the environment and are interested in learning how to use science to conserve and protect the planet and its water resources.  Co-offered with Dr. Andrea Erhardt.

EES 341: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 

An introduction to key concepts in process geomorphology. Students will learn quantitative analysis of landscape evolution using different aspects of surficial geology and the geological record. Lecture topics will focus on:  (a) measuring rates of geomorphic processes and environmental change using relative and absolute dating; (b) weathering, soils, and source-to-sink sedimentology; (c) the water cycle and hillslopes; (d) river systems, channels, and drainage basin development; (e) coastal, submarine, eolian, glacial, and volcanic features, landforms, and deposits; (f) tectonic geomorphology, climate change, and the evolution of landscapes. Students will be evaluated through quizzes, occasional homework, a mid-term exam, and a final project. The final project will make use of geographic information systems (GIS) and digital elevation models – students will acquire skills in GIS from homework exercises (no experience will be assumed). 

EES 480/645: Glacial and Quaternary Geology/Geophysics in the Field

An introduction to the geologic record of global change with a special focus on the past ~2.6 million years.  Students will be exposed to the evolution of Quaternary climate, biota, and environments using different geological archives. Techniques in Quaternary geochronology. Geomorphology and landscape evolution under the influence of ice sheets. Practical exercises in outcrop analysis with emphasis on lacustrine and loess deposits in northern and western Kentucky. Grading will be based on participation, in-class exercises and a final exams. Two mandatory field trips.  Co-offered with Dr. Ed Woolery.

EES 533: Global Climate and Environmental Change

Geoscientists have documented continuous change in Earth’s climate, environments, and biota through geologic time. Human activity is currently forcing climate change at rates that have previously been associated with periods of extreme ecosystem crisis and mass extinction. This course examines the natural and anthropogenic (human-caused) mechanisms that force climate to change. Modern measurements and observations of climate, energy balance, and biogeochemical cycles, combined with data that preserve climate records of the ancient past, provide the foundation for understanding global environmental change. These data allow geoscientists to document and interpret climate change and to predict the future livability of the planet for human inhabitants.

EES 555: Stratigraphy

This course will introduce the principles of stratigraphy and correlation. Special focus will be placed on clastic depositional systems and facies models.  Students will learn the fundamentals of litho-, chemo-, and sequence stratigraphy, and develop the skills needed to apply these techniques to outcrops, cores, and seismic reflection datasets. Readings will highlight major advances in our understanding of Earth systems history made using the stratigraphic record. Grading will be based on participation, in-class exercises, quizzes, and a final exam.  One week-long field trip to the Outer Banks.

EES 655: Muds and Mudrocks 

This course will introduce students to the geology and geochemistry of muds and mudstones.  Focus will be placed on the generation of silt and clay, processes of transport, depositional environments, provenance techniques (inorganic geochemistry and mineralogy), organic geochemistry, and basin analysis. Introduction to petroleum resource exploration in shale plays of the United States. Practical exercises in sediment core analysis using the KGS core library. Grading will be based on participation, in-class exercises, quizzes, and a final exam.