BIOGEOCHEMISTRY AS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY SCIENCE
Biogeochemistry is the study of biologically mediated geochemical changes at varied scales in the environment. Biogeochemistry integrates multiple disciplines (biology, microbiology, geology, chemistry, physics, and ecology) to gain understanding of how living organisms—large and small—interact with the abiotic environment and influence Earth’s habitability. This interdisciplinary science is less than a hundred years old, growing out of insights articulated by Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky in his essays on the biosphere. Biogeochemistry today emphasizes analysis of global change and the impacts of humans on Earth’s chemical cycles.
BIOGEOCHEMISTRY AT PENN STATE
Penn State offers a unique dual-title PhD program where scholars are trained in the interdisciplinary science of biogeochemistry and one of eight major graduate programs: Geosciences, Soil Science, Ecology, Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Plant Pathology, and Materials Science and Engineering. Biogeochemistry students complete the requirements for their major graduate program while taking 15 credits from the Biogeochemistry Curriculum Table.
The program involves an active and engaging graduate student community, faculty co-advising, cross-disciplinary coursework, and opportunities for additional stipend and tuition support beyond that of a student’s home department or program. Annual events offer an opportunity to exchange ideas with biogeochemists on and off campus, including the student-organized Environmental Chemistry Student Symposium and field trips.
The program is administered by the Geosciences Department with support from the Department of Ecosystem Sciences and Management for the participating graduate programs, with support from the Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE), the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI), and The Graduate School.