Intergration of Undergraduate Research Activities in the Geology and Biology Environmental Science Curriculum Using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Spectrometer

Project Details


Geology (42) We have implemented a hierarchical set of research exercises (e.g., Johnson & Stahl, 1997, Central Michigan University; Videtich, 1997, Grand Valley State University; Niemitz, 1996, Dickinson College) that utilize the ICP-AES across sophomore to senior level courses in the environmental science concentration within the geology and biology majors at MSU. 1) Initial exercises in the sequence stress practical sample collection, preparation, and analysis techniques for air, water, and soil samples in sophomore level environmental analytical chemistry and soil science courses. These courses serve as the analytical foundation for future exercises that utilize the ICP and other existing analytical equipment (e.g. XRD, SEM, ion chromatography). 2) Junior-level students complete progressively more complex course-based guided research using the ICP for applications specific to upper-level courses in applied environmental microbiology, geohydrology, and environmental geochemistry. The exercises build on experimental design, implementation, and analysis skills and allow students the opportunity to utilize variable analytical strategies. With each exercise students prepare a written, visual, and/or oral presentation of the results that includes data presentation and interpretation components. Junior level students use the ICP for inquiry-based research projects involving the analysis of rocks and minerals in the petrology and mineralogy courses for geology majors. 3) As a capstone to the environmental science curriculum, senior-level students use the ICP-AES facility to design and implement an independent, semester-long research project in a senior seminar course in environmental science. Research projects are either associated with on-going faculty research or completely of the students' own design. Students are involved in all phases of the research from planning and implementation, to sample collection and analysis, to final data interpretation and presentation. The project culminates in a substantial written report and an oral presentation at a semester-end class symposium. The ICP is also being used to complete more substantial, independent, senior projects (theses) in environmental science, geology, chemistry, and biology with the guidance of faculty mentors. Many of these projects are presented at scientific conferences and result in formal publications. The ICP-AES has prepared students for employment in the environmental industry and for developing independent research skills for those attending graduate school.

Effective start/end date1/01/0031/12/01


  • National Science Foundation: $61,325.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.