Graduate Student Seminars

For a complete listing of Graduate Seminars offered at Berkeley, please follow this link.
Course Title: ISOTOPICS: Reconstructing the past using stable isotope proxies
Instructors: Todd Dawson, Stefania Mambelli, Cindy Looy, Seth Finnegan
This seminar/discussion will focus on reading the primary scientific literature drawn from a wide range of journals (ecological, evolutionary, geochemical, paleontological, etc.) that highlight research aimed at reconstructing past events using stable isotope data. Our goal is to review and discuss key research papers that emphasize how isotope data are demonstrating changes in the pattern and likely processes we can detect and interpret over different spans of time and at different spatial scales. Participants will be expected to lead a group discussion centered on a key research paper or papers and examine how the isotope data that are presented help answer questions about past change on Earth. Focusing on a discussion topic that may relate to your own research is encouraged but not required. The synthesis of our discussions are aimed at helping us define where new research directions exist that will facilitate a deeper understanding about how changes have occurred.

Course Title: Stable Isotope Ecology
Instructor:  Todd Dawson
This course focuses on the principles of isotope chemistry, behavior, measurements, and the application of these principles to relevant ecological patterns and processes in terrestrial, aquatic and marine systems. In the laboratory section, all students will participate in a set of exercises involving the preparation of samples of choice for isotopic analyses, the use of the mass spectrometer and optical analysis systems, and the analysis of isotopic data. The last few weeks of the course will be dedicated to student lab projects and /or specialized lectures. The content and scheduling of topics is subject to modification depending on the class interests.
Course Title:  Science Communication 
Instructor: Whendee Silver
Effective communication is an important skill that all scientists should master. There are many different forms of communication, and these require different approaches and techniques. The goal of this course is to provide students with the skills to communicate scientific findings to a wide range of audiences. We will discuss approaches to communicating our findings and those of others to other scientists, the public, policy makers, and the media. We will then prepare and practice communicating through papers, proposals, op-eds, presentations, sound bites, and podcasts. Exercises and assignments are designed to give students hands on experience developing their own stories and packaging them to selected audiences.
Course Title: Critical Thresholds in Ecology
Instructor: David Ackerly, Katharine Sundig
It is increasingly clear that many complex systems have critical thresholds at which the system shifts abruptly from one state to another. In medicine, spontaneous systemic failures occur as asthma attacks or epileptic seizures; in global finance, systemic market crashes; in the Earth system, abrupt shifts in ocean circulation or climate. In ecology, critical transitions have become a major focus of research. Thresholds also occur in ecological systems, such as catastrophic shifts in rangelands, lakes or coral reefs, fueling concern about how to predict and better manage such transitions.

Course Title: Topics in Probability and Statistics: Spatial Statistics
Instructor: Cari Kaufman
Spatial data arise in a wide range of scientific disciplines, including the geosciences, environmental sciences, economics, and public health.  This course will introduce you to methods and models that have been developed for spatial data.  We will cover three main types of spatial data: geostatistical (point-referenced) data, lattice or areal data, and point process data.  A unifying theme is the specification and fitting of probability models for such data, using stochastic processes and hierarchical models to represent the complex dependencies that often arise.