Teaching Science with Isotopes

Dr. Jim Moran is teaching a special topics course this semester, in which he and his student explore how Stable isotopes can trace physical, chemical, and biological reactions and source materials at a wide variety of spatial scales.

“In discussions with multiple faculty around campus it felt like there was a gap in the current slate of classes. A lot of people are designing and implementing experiments with a stable isotope component but it has been a few years since a formal class had been offered in this area. I am attempting to fill this gap to provide an opportunity for students to learn the fundamentals about stable isotopes and the breadth of ways they can be used to address questions in a wide range of disciplines.

Jim says they read select papers that feature the use of stable isotopes in different ways – all across the sciences.

While there are only eight students in the class “they come from a range of different departments” including PSM, Integrative Biology, Earth and Environmental Science, Chemistry, and Anthropology, “which brings a diverse range of experience and interests.”

Technician Husand Ghandi tours graduate students through the facility.

“It’s a great experience, and I am hoping to teach this class every other year so the next offering should be in spring semester of 2026.”

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