Enrolled students: Background readings and lecture PowerPoint pdfs will be available on the course Canvas site.


Contact the course instructor: Sharon Doty

Environmental Applications of Plants

Course Description for ESRM 325 and SEFS 523

(Updated 23 May 2017)

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. This overview is then followed by several lectures on the latest research on how current practices are being improved to make biofuel production economically and biologically feasible.
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.
There will be one midterm and one final examination of 150 points each. The questions require essay style answers. To aid in the exams in the undergraduate version of the course (ESRM325), students may bring one note page (2-sided) of their own making (to be turned in with the exams). The graduate student version of the course (SEFS 523) has take-home exams rather than in-class exams with the expectation of more thorough answers based on both lectures and current literature.  There are two writing assignments, each worth 50 points. 
Syllabus for 2017

Sept 28- Overview on environmental applications of plants; standard remediation methods
Oct 3- Phytoremediation of organic chemicals
Oct 5- Phytoremediation of inorganic chemicals
Oct 10- Genetic engineering
Oct 12- Enhancing phytoremediation using g.e.
Oct 17- Enhancing phytoremediation using endophytes
Oct 19- Phytoremediation- Local opportunities and strategies
Oct 24- Exam 1 (phytoremediation)
Oct 26- Bioenergy overview
Nov 2- Bioethanol
Nov 7- Biodiesel and biomethanol
Nov 9- Hydrogen gas as a biofuel-guest lecture
Paper 1 is due

Nov 14- Improving the efficiency of biofuel production
Nov 16- Improving the efficiency of biofuel production (continued)
Nov 21- Biochemicals (guest lecture)
Nov 23- Thanksgiving Day holiday
Nov 28- USDA/AFRI PNW Bioenergy Projects: AHB
Nov 30- USDA/AFRI PNW Bioenergy Projects: NARA
Dec 5- Global climate change
Dec 7- Photosynthesis, carbon sequestration, and plant responses to climate change
Dec 13- Final Exam; Paper 2 is due


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