Francesca Cotrufo

Student examins soil core sample
Measuring corn height
Students at test plot in crop field
Dr. Francesca Cotrufo pounding in sampling probe
Researcher setting up experiment on newly planted pine tree



This course is meant to bring together students from different backgrounds who share the common interest of exploring new methods for their research. In fact, it will guide students to think “isotopically” and provide them with basic practical skills to apply isotope methods in their research. The overall course stimulate students to develop their ideas on how to incorporate isotope approaches in their research. This will be further achieved by the assignment, as final exam, to write a research proposal on their area of interest, where isotope methodologies are used.

The Earth system is undergoing continuous changes which have profound impacts on soils and soil processes, as well as on the capacity of soils to support demand for food, fibre and energy. Soils and climate change are tightly linked in a series of feedback mechanisms for which understanding is critical to wisely manage the world soils and adapt to and/or possibly mitigate the effects of global changes. This course is meant to provide state of the art knowledge on the effects of current environmental changes, from the increase of atmospheric CO2 and climate change to N deposition, loss of biodiversity, land use change, UV_B radiation etc., on soil processes and biota, and to discuss the field and laboratory methods currently available to study those effects.

The summer soil institute provides a unique opportunity to gain a fundamental and applied understanding of soil biology, chemistry, and physics with world-renowned faculty. During this two summer weeks of full-immersion, students gain hands-on experience with lab and field techniques and gain an enhanced appreciation for the importance of managing our soil resources sustainably.

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