Grades for Exam 2 for SEFS 523 are now posted on Catalyst (12/11/13)

ESRM325 final exam part 1 grades are posted on Catalyst (12/12/13)

Contact the course instructor: Sharon Doty


Course Description for ESRM 325 and CFR 523

(Updated 4 Nov 2013)

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
College of the Environment

The course provides students with information about pressing environmental issues and many possible “green” solutions. In the two main topics of the course, both the advantages and disadvantages of each method are covered with the goal that the students will learn critical thinking skills. The course includes a discussion of global climate change and carbon sequestration by plants, since it links to both of the main topics of the course- phytoremediation and bioenergy. The students will learn about how plants remove and detoxify organic pollutants and sequester metal pollutants. They will learn the advantages and disadvantages of using phytoremediation compared to current engineering methods, and how the process can be improved. One lecture will focus on genetic engineering of plants, followed by lectures describing how this method can lead to increased degradation of pollutants. The bioenergy part of the course covers bioethanol, biomethanol, and biodiesel as alternative fuels. It complements courses taught in the BSE program by emphasizing the biology rather than the chemistry. This overview is then followed by several lectures on the latest research on how current practices are being improved to make biofuel production more economically and environmentally sustainable.

Required Texts

Since the course covers the latest material on phytoremediation and bioenergy, some of which is not yet published, the reading is based on reviews and current scientific papers, not text books. Students are expected to read the reviews prior to class to engage effectively in class discussions. These will be posted on our ShareSpaces site:


There will be two mid-term examinations of 150 points each. The questions require essay style answers (and some multiple choice and short answer). The comprehensive final exam is worth 100 points and focuses on tying together the three main topics of the course. To aid in the exams in the undergraduate version of the course (ESRM325), students may bring one two-sided note page summarizing the lecture notes for that section. The graduate student version of the course (CFR523) has take-home exams rather than in-class exams with the expectation of more thorough answers based on both lectures and current literature. These should include reference citations. Graduate students need not come to class on midterm exam days (the exam will be e-mailed to them).

Syllabus for 2013 (Tu/Th 8:00-9:30 AM in Mueller 153)

Sept 26- Introduction to the course; overview on environmental applications of plants
Oct 1- Remediation overview; Phytoremediation of organic chemicals
Oct 3- Phytoremediation of inorganic chemicals
Oct 8- Genetic engineering of plants
Oct 10- Enhancing phytoremediation using g.e.
Oct 15- Enhancing phytoremediation using endophytes
Oct 17- Phytoremediation- Local opportunities and strategies
Oct 22-Exam 1 (phytoremediation)
Oct 24- Bioenergy overview
Oct 29- Bioethanol
Oct 31- Hydrogen gas as a biofuel-guest lecture by Dr. Kathryn Fixen of Carrie Harwood’s lab
Nov 5- Biodiesel and biomethanol
Nov 7- Improving the efficiency of biofuel production
Nov 12- Improving the efficiency of biofuel production (continued)
Nov 14- AFRI Project 1:  (UW-led) Biofuels from poplar trees in the Pacific NW
Nov 19-AFRI Project 2:  (WSU-led) Dr. Indro Ganguly on the LCA of making biofuels from forest debris
Nov 21: Exam 2 (bioenergy)
Nov 26- Global climate change
Nov 28- Thanksgiving Day holiday
Dec 3- Photosynthesis and carbon sequestration
Dec 5- Plant responses to climate change; tying together the course; course evaluations
Dec 10- Final Exam (comprehensive)

Disability Accommodations

To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor so we can arrange the accommodations needed for this class.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism, cheating, and other misconduct are serious violations of your contract as a student. We expect that you will know and follow the University's policies on cheating and plagiarism . Any suspected cases of academic misconduct will be handled according to University regulations. More information, including definitions and examples of Academic Misconduct, is available at