Applying to the USC Geobiology Program

It is important for prospective students to contact potential advisors as early as possible to discuss research interests and opportunities.

 

Graduate Students
Prospective graduate students for the USC Geobiology Program can apply either through the USC Department of Earth Sciences or to the Marine Environmental Biology program at USC. Detailed application instructions can be found on the respective admissions pages for these departments.


Courses Offered at USC

 

 

   
 
USC features the most diverse geobiology faculty of any university in the country.  All areas of geobiology are covered by one or more faculty members providing students with an array of potential advisors.
 
 

 

Courses of Interest to Geobiology / Astrobiology Students

Biology (BISC)

300L Biochemistry
419 Environmental Microbiology
435 Advanced Biochemistry
474L Ecosystem Function and Earth Systems
483 Geobiology and Astrobiology
532 Advanced Seminar in Molecular and Microbial Ecology
536 Advanced Seminar in Marine/Global N Cycle
582 Advanced Biological Oceanography
583 Biochemistry and Physiology of Marine Organisms (4, Fa)

Chemistry (CHEM)

432 Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences
626 Natural Products Chemistry

Earth Sciences (GEOL)

320L Surficial Processes and Stratigraphic Systems
333L Paleontology and the Evolution of Life
412 Oceans, Climate, and the Environment
460L Geochemistry and Hydrology
470 Environmental Hydrogeology
500 Marine Paleoecology
501 Paleobiology
510L Advanced Stratigraphic Field Methods
511L Depositional Systems
512 Introduction to Chemical and Physical Oceanography
514 Marine Geology
520 Ichnology
542 Late Cenozoic Glacial Ages
550 Chemical Equilibrium and Disequilibrium in Geology
555 Paleoceanography
560 Marine Geochemistry
563 Exchange Processes in the Ocean
564 Isotope Geochemistry
565 Dynamical Oceanography
566 Geochemistry Seminar
567 Stable Isotope Geochemistry
571abL Sedimentary Petrology
572L Statistical Analysis of Geologic Data
577L Micropaleontology
580 Computer Applications in the Earth Sciences
601 Seminar in Sedimentary Geology
650 Recent Advances in Paleontology

Biology (BISC)

300L Introduction to Microbiology (4, Fa)
Comparative approach to bacteria, Archaea and viruses; their structure, life cycles, geochemical activity, ecology and nutrition. Fundamentals of metabolism and microbial genetics. Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory, 6 hours. Prerequisite: BISC 311 or BISC 320L; CHEM 322aL or CHEM 325aL.

320L Molecular Biology (4, FaSm)
Structure and synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins; molecular biology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes; principles of genetics and cell biology. (Duplicates credit in BISC 311.) Prerequisite: CHEM 105bL or CHEM 115bL.

330L Biochemistry (4, Sp)
Basic biochemical principles; classes of molecules Ñstructure and function; cellular energetics. (Duplicates credit in BISC 316L). Prerequisite: BISC 311 or BISC 320L; CHEM 322aL.

419 Environmental Microbiology (4, Sp)
Qualitative and quantitative appraisal of microbial activities in pure and contaminated environments; microbial community and its development; interspecific relationships; effects of microorganisms on their surroundings. Lecture, 4 hours. Prerequisite: BISC 316L or BISC 330L; recommended preparation: BISC 300L.

435 Advanced Biochemistry (4, Sp)
Macromolecular structure and function; enzymology; metabolic regulation. Lecture, 3 hours; discussion, 2 hours. Prerequisite: BISC 316L or BISC 330L.

473L Biological Oceanography (4, Sp)
Biological, physical, chemical dynamics and analysis of the ocean; primary production of phytoplankton, secondary production by zooplankton, bacterial remineralization; physiology, ecology of fishes, marine mammals. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 3 hours. Junior standing. Prerequisite: BISC 120L or BISC 121L; BISC 220L or BISC 221L; recommended preparation: two from BISC 311, BISC 313, BISC 316L, BISC 320L, BISC 325 and BISC 330L.

474L Ecosystem Function and Earth Systems (4, Fa)
General principles of ecosystem function, energy flow and materials cycling in marine systems at various scales and the importance of microbial processes in these systems. Taught on Catalina Island. Prerequisite: BISC 120L or BISC 121L.

483 Geobiology and Astrobiology (4, Sp)
Relationships between microbiota and the earth environment including the hydrosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere, with consideration of the potential for life on other planets. Prerequisite: BISC 120L, CHEM 105bL.

510ab Integrative and Evolutionary Biology (a: 4, Fa; b: 4, Sp)
Current topics in integrative and evolutionary biology including genetics, natural selection, ecology with emphasis on higher order complex questions including form, function, and energy use throughout the life span.

532 Advanced Seminar in Molecular and Microbial Ecology (2, FaSp)
Microorganisms dominate biological processes in the ocean. These species pose significant problems for estimating species diversity, abundance and activity. Examination of modern molecular biological approaches for analyzing aquatic microbial communities and their ecological roles.

536 Advanced Seminar in Marine/Global N Cycle (2)
Biological processes in marine ecosystems strongly affect the cycling of important elements on our planet. Examination of the interplay between ocean biology and the cycling of carbon and nitrogen on a local, regional and global scale.

582 Advanced Biological Oceanography (4, Fa)
Aspects of physics and chemistry of the oceans. Qualitative and quantitative considerations of the ecology of pelagic and benthic communities.

583 Biochemistry and Physiology of Marine Organisms (4, Fa)
Biochemical and physiological adaptations of marine bacteria, plants, and animals to the wide range of environments that exists in the ocean.


Chemistry (CHEM)

432 Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences (4, Fa)
Principles of physical chemistry relevant for the life sciences: thermodynamics, chemical equilibria, molecular dynamics, kinetics, molecular structures and interactions, spectroscopy, statistical thermodynamics and macromolecular structures. Prerequisite: CHEM 300L, CHEM 322bL or CHEM 325bL; MATH 126; PHYS 135bL or PHYS 152L.

626 Natural Products Chemistry (2)
Survey of the chemistry and biogenesis of the major classes of secondary metabolites along biogenetic lines: terpenes, aceto genins, and alkaloids.

Earth Sciences (GEOL)

320L Surficial Processes and Stratigraphic Systems (4, Fa)
Processes of erosion, sediment transport, and deposition that shape the land surface; landscape response to tectonism; recognition and interpretation of depositional environments in the stratigraphic record. Prerequisite: GEOL 215bL.

333L Paleontology and the Evolution of Life (4, Fa) [Bottjer]
Origin and evolution of life; major marine fossil groups and their evolutionary history; utilization of fossils in age determinations; fossils and reconstructing ancient environments, geography and ecology. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 3 hours; field trips.

412 Oceans, Climate, and the Environment (4, Sp) [Ku]
Survey of physical, chemical, and geological oceanography emphasizing the role of the ocean in environmental problems, including modulation of climate and atmospheric composition, biogeochemical cycling, pollutant transport, paleoceanography, and paleoclimate; discussion section covers problem sets illustrating simple calculations. Prerequisite: CHEM 105bL or CHEM 115bL, MATH 126; recommended preparation: PHYS 151L, PHYS 152L or PHYS 135ab.

460L Geochemistry and Hydrology (4, Fa) [Ku]
Composition and origin of the earth; principles of physical chemistry applied to aqueous systems; reaction-diffusion modeling; principles of hydrology; environmental problems. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory/discussion, 2 hours. Prerequisite: CHEM 105bL or CHEM 115bL and MATH 126.

470 Environmental Hydrogeology (4, Irregular) [Hammond]
Concepts in hydrogeology and their application to environmental problems. Topics include groundwater chemistry and hydrology, contaminants and their behavior. Guest lectures on regulations and remediation techniques. Recommended preparation: GEOL 460L.

500 Marine Paleoecology (3, 2 years, Fa) [Douglas]
Principles of marine paleoecology; interrelationships between marine organisms and their environment in geologic time. Prerequisite: GEOL 333L; recommended preparation: GEOL 577L.


501 Paleobiology (3, Fa)
Concepts and methods for functional morphologic analysis of fossil marine invertebrates. Systematics theory and methodology, macroevolution, and broad biotic trends in the Phanerozoic. Recommended preparation: GEOL 333L.

510L Advanced Stratigraphic Field Methods (3)
Stratigraphic field methods and computer-assisted data analysis. Field trips incorporating vertical and lateral facies analysis; collection of paleocurrent, fabric, paleomagnetic, photogeologic and compaction data. Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory, 2 hours; field trips. Prerequisite: GEOL 320L.

511L Depositional Systems (3)
Analysis of depositional systems, including conceptual methods of lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy, and paleoecology; description of major depositional environments. Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory, 2 hours.

512 Introduction to Chemical and Physical Oceanography (3, Fa) (Enroll in OS 512) [Hammond]
Principles of physical, chemical, and geological oceanography including discussions of air-sea interaction, biogeochemical cycling and the role of the ocean in modulating climate and atmospheric composition; discussion section section will cover formulation of basic calculations that illustrate these principles. Prerequisite: CHEM 105bL, MATH 126.

514 Marine Geology (3, Fa)
Origin and characteristics of ocean basins; marine sedimentary environments; shoreline classification and character; evolution of oceanic features. Lecture, 3 hours; research conference, 1 hour.

520 Ichnology (3, 2 years, Fa) [Bottjer]
Ancient and recent borings and bioturbation structures and their utilization in stratigraphic, paleoenvironmental, paleoecological, sedimentological, and geochemical studies. Recommended preparation: GEOL 320L and GEOL 333L.


542 Late Cenozoic Glacial Ages (3)
Reconstruction of climatic variability; development of late Cenozoic global glacial/interglacial cycles; marine and terrestrial climatic histories; driving mechanisms of climatic change.

550 Chemical Equilibrium and Disequilibrium in Geology (3, 2 years,Sp)
Phase equilibria; phase diagrams; thermodynamics of aqueous and solid solutions; irreversible thermodynamics; kinetics, diffusion, and metasomatism, with applications to problems in petrology and geochemistry. Prerequisite: GEOL 460L.

550 Paleoceanography (3) [Stott]
Mesozoic and Cenozoic paleoceanography; analytical approaches applied to water mass history, paleocirculation, paleoproductivity, nutrient cycling, and paleotemperature reconstruction. Lecture, readings, and research project. Recommended preparation: GEOL 412 or GEOL 512 and GEOL 460L

560 Marine Geochemistry (3, 2 years, Sp)
Principles of chemical sedimentology and aquatic chemistry; diagenesis, authigenesis, and the geochemical cycle. Prerequisite: GEOL 460L.

563 Exchange Processes in the Ocean (3, 2 years, Sp)
Equations of motion; abyssal circulation; application of stable and radioactive isotopes to oceanographic problems; air-sea and sediment-water interactions. Recommended preparation: GEOL 412 or GEOL 512

564 Isotope Geochemistry (3, 2 years, Sp)
Variations in the isotopic composition of elements in the earth's crust with applications to geological problems, including geochronology, geothermometry, ore genesis, and crustal evolution.


565 Dynamical Oceanography (3, 2 years, Sp)
Introduction to physical oceanography to include atmospheric circulation, wind-driven, and thermohaline ocean circulation. Recommended preparation: PHYS 135bL and MATH 126.

566 Geochemistry Seminar (1-4)
Current topics in geochemistry.

567 Stable Isotope Geochemistry (3)
Theoretical basis; nuclide nomenclature, partition function ratios, mechanisms and rates of isotope exchange; mass spectrometry and extraction techniques; application of stable isotopes to geologic problems.

571abL Sedimentary Petrology (a: 3, Fa; b: 3, Sp)
Petrography, classification, and genesis of major sedimentary rock types. Recognition and significance of ancient and modern sedimentary environments. a: Carbonates and evaporites. b: Terrigeneous clastics and others. Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory, 2 hours.

572 Statistical Analysis of Geologic Data (3)
Theory and use of statistical and probabilistic procedures for the acquisition,analysis, and interpretation of geologic data. Introduction of mathematical models and digital computing. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 3 hours. Recommended preparation: MATH 125.

577L Micropaleontology (3, 2 years, Fa)
Microscopic fossils, especially foraminifera, their classification, the common genera, morphology, evolutionary trends; laboratory and field techniques. Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory and field work, 6 hours. Recommended preparation: GEOL 333L.

580 Computer Applications in the Earth Sciences (3)
Numerical methods and algorithm development for applications in the earth sciences. Lecture topics include modeling studies, statistics, and time series analysis. Lab topics include computer operating systems, networking, hardware, and special software packages.Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory, 2 hours.

601 Seminar in Sedimentary Geology (3)
Recent topics have included Mass Extinction Events and Biosignatures

650 Recent Advances in Paleontology (3)
Selected review of recent ideas in paleobiology, evolution, and paleoecology related to examining the current frontiers in paleontology.