Biogeosciences (Earth System Sciences) examines the interplay between organisms and their environment and how its expressed in natural archives and the geological record. This discipline is vital for comprehending the origin of life on our planet, predicting its future evolution, investigating the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and probing how human perturbations including climate change are affecting current life and ecosystems.

  • photo of hot springs, a clean lab, and layered rocks representing the breadth of biogeosciencesHow are elements and chemical compounds cycled and transformed in natural systems including understanding the role of microorganisms and other life? 
  • How do microorganisms affect mineral dissolution and precipitation?
  • Where are viable habitats for life and what are the requirements for thriving ecosystems? 
  • What insights can we draw from studying Earth about the potential for life on other worlds?
  • How can studying past changes in organisms including plankton tell us about how the climate and chemistry of the Earth has changed on land and in the ocean? 
  • How has the chemistry of the oceans evolved over time?
  • How are contaminants released into the environment transported, transformed and removed from natural systems? 
  • How are human activities including climate change changing biogeochemical cycles on Earth?


Faculty Areas of Interest
Bridget Bergquist metal geochemistry
Jörg Bollmann paleoceanography, geobiology, paleoecology
Sharon Cowling global carbon cycle
Maria Dittrich biogeosciences
Sarah Finkelstein climate science, paleoclimatology, paleoecology, micropaleontology, wetland biogeosciences
Dan Gregory hydrothermal ore systems
Jochen Halfar paleoclimatology, geobiology
Marc Laflamme invertebrate paleontology, geoscience pedagogy
Barbara Sherwood Lollar stable isotope geochemistry, hydrogeology
Ulrich Wortmann marine geology, paleoceanography, carbon and sulfur cycling, geomicrobiology