EAPS Seminars and Special Offerings

Interested in cross registration and need more information? Visit our Cross-Registration page for a summary of useful links.

FALL 2019Spring 2019FALL 2018 | SPRING 2018 | IAP 2018

PLEASE NOTE:  Subjects listed on this page are being taught under a Special Problems number, used for one time only classes. The title and description that you will see on the Registrar's and pre-registration sites will NOT match what you see here. They will list the general info that applies to all terms and years. Register for the right number, and you will be in the class you want.

Fall 2019

Units:  TBA
Schedule:  TBA
Early life on Earth, Weekly readings cover seminal and new papers about the evidence for early life on Earth. Students taking the seminar are expected to research a topic in depth and lead discussions.
Instructor:  Bosak


Units: 3
Schedule:  Monday 3:30pm - 5:00pm, E25-605
Automation of laboratory equipment helps us not only save time doing measurements but also produce precise and reproducible data.  This is a crash course to learn tools available to automate laboratory equipment. Our goal is for students to be able to design, build, troubleshoot, or upgrade an instrument that can control valves, motors, read analogue and digital signals, and log data. No prior experience with electronics or programing is required.Topics to cover include but not limited to:
1) basic programing tools, including Labview, Arduino and Python, 
2) how sensors work, e.g., temperature (thermocouple vs. thermistor) and pressure (capacitance manometer vs. thermocouple gauge), 
3) how to control pressure (vacuum system, pressure regulators),
4) how to control pneumatic valves,
5) how to read analogue and digital signals, and
6) how to communicate with other devices using serial communication protocols.
Instructor:  Ono

Units: 3
Schedule:  Friday 4:00pm - 5:30pm, E25-605
This class will be a critique of high profile molecular geochemistry papers that appeared in 2018-2019. Participants will present 2-3 papers each week, describe the science and open the floor for discussion.
Instructor:  Summons

12.S592   Deep Learning Foundations for Natural Systems
Units: 9
Schedule: F 10-12pm, 54-1623
Continuing course for Machine Learning that enables one to design Learning-based approaches for geophysical applications. Topics from the following areas are studied, based on class interest:  Graphical Models, Ensemble Learning, Manifold Learning, Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning. Applications to Dynamics, Fluids, Ocean, Atmosphere, Climate and Planets are typical, but others may be examined based on interest. See subject website for more information.
Instructor: Ravela

12.S680  Artificial Intelligence for TESS Applications
Units:  12
Schedule:  WF 10am - 12:00pm, 54-517

  • Introduction of AI techniques and tools required for the analysis of datasets collected with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). 
  • Topics will include general aspects on machine learning with neural networks and deep learning, as well as special areas related to recurrent networks, Long Short-Term Memory, and Generative Adversarial Networks. AI Inference techniques will be discussed for scientifically relevant phenomena in light curve time series and TESS camera images.
  • Current research problems will be introduced and lead into individual or small-group projects
  • Examples and projects in Python
  • Requirements: programming experience
    Instructors:  Seager, Pankratius

12.S992 Nitrogen in the Marine Environment
Units: 6
Schedule: Monday 2-4pm, 54-517

Covers nitrogen cycling in the marine environment through reading and discussion of seminal papers in the field. Includes characterization of the organisms, genes, and chemical factors responsible for, and the broader implications of the nitrogen cycle. Discusses global budgets and inventories of the multiple nitrogen forms and their isotopes. Consists of in depth readings and class-driven presentation of the material and its analysis.
Instructor:  Babbin

Fall 2018

12.090/12.S492 The Phylogenomic Planetary Record
Undergraduate and Graduate numbers
Units: 3-0-9
Schedule: MW 1:00-3:00PM, 14-0637

There are only two records of events in Earth's deep past, that preserved within rocks, and that preserved within genomes.  This course introduces the tools of sequence-based phylogenetic analysis and molecular evolution in the context of studying this genomic record.  Topics will include basic concepts of cladistics, phylogeny, and sequence evolution, construction of phylogenetic trees of genes and microbial lineages, molecular clocks, dating, and ancestral sequence reconstruction.  Special attention will be given to the evolutionary history of microbial metabolisms, and their relationship to global biogeochemical cycles across Earth's history.  In fall 2019 this course will be offered as 12.178/ 12.478.
Instructor: Fournier

Units: 2-0-8
Schedule: Tue 9-11am, E25-602
Equips students with the fundamental skills to identify major controls on the chemistry of waters on the Earth.  Students examine key concepts, theories and practical tools (e.g., pH, Eh, alkalinity, surface charge, speciation, and carbonate equilibrium) and apply them as tools to understand and make predictions for the biogeochemical cycles of the Earth systems.
Instructor: Ono

12.S493   The Forensics of Food
Units: 6
Schedule: Th 4-6pm, E25-602
This will be a weekly reading group/seminar where we examine the chemistry, encompassing such issues as origination, production, quality, preservation and authenticity, behind what we eat and drink. We are also interested in the fate of what we eat and drink as these materials pass through our guts, and as they leave our bodies and enter the environment via waste treatment plants or when we die.
Instructor: Summons

12.S592   Deep Learning Foundations for Natural Systems
Units: 9
Schedule: F 10-12pm
Continuing course for Machine Learning that enables one to design Learning-based approaches for geophysical applications. Topics from the following areas are studied, based on class interest:  Graphical Models, Ensemble Learning, Manifold Learning, Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning. Applications to Dynamics, Fluids, Ocean, Atmosphere, Climate and Planets are typical, but others may be examined based on interest. See subject website for more information.
Instructor: Ravela

12.S593 Proposals and Pathways
Units:  5
Schedule:  Th 3:00-4:30pm, 54-517

This seminar will build skills for writing scientific proposals and facilitate investigation of career pathways.  Topics covered include scientific writing, proposal writing for grants and fellowships, and exploration of academic and non-academic careers.    
Readings will be assigned before each class. Class time will involve discussion of readings lead by a different student each week and a follow-on class activity. Career section involves presentation to class at end of semester and written summary. Graded P/D/F.
Syllabus and more information is found here:  http://www.mit.edu/~pog/proposals_pathways.html
Instructor: O’Gorman

Units:  6
Schedule:  M 8:30 - 9:30am Recitation, Fri. 4-5pm Lecture, 54-915

This course is designed for first year graduate students in EAPS and the MIT/ WHOI Joint Program.  The course will introduce students to the breadth of Earth sciences research across the department and will be structured around the themes of Earth, Planets, Climate, and Life. Each three-week unit will begin with an introduction to EAPS faculty members who work on that 'theme'.  Two paper discussions facilitated by a group of students and a faculty member will follow. There will also be one group assignment for each unit.  In the recitation on Monday mornings topics relevant to first-year students will be covered including graduate student fellowship applications, MIT libraries, instrumentation facilities around campus, resources for teaching, writing and learning, looking ahead to generals/ trajectory of graduate school, being proactive about careers after graduate school, making the most of IAP/summer (opportunities in the department and beyond), diversity/outreach efforts and resources, mental/physical health, Title IX, violence prevention and response, insurance/tax considerations, student leadership opportunities.
Instructor:  EAPS Faculty


12.S489  Seminar on Dynamics of Melt Migration
Units: 3
Schedule: Th 10:00am-12:00pm, 54-1827

Melting and melt extraction from Earth’s interior influence much of the chemical exchange between the mantle, crust and the atmosphere and contribute to the differentiation of our planet. Melting of rocks commences at the grain scale whenever the rocks cross their solidus. Understanding of the mechanical and transport properties of the resulting mixture solid grains and liquid melt is an outstanding challenge in Earth Sciences.

In this seminar, we will review current research on the dynamics of partially molten regions in the crust and mantle from several perspectives. We will discuss seminal papers tackling the deformation behavior of solid-liquid composites, current geophysical observations of partially molten regions, the chemical signature of melt-rock interactions and geological evidence of melt migration. This is a graduate level seminar for students with background in rock physics, structural geology, seismology and petrology.
Instructor: M. Pec

12.093/ 12.S491  Making Oxygenating Great Again
Units:  TBA
Schedule: Friday, 2-4pm, 54-517

In this seminar, we will discuss observations from which models of atmospheric oxygen evolution were built, and hypotheses to explain the timing and/or mechanisms of the oxygenation.  Mechanisms of oxidation can be “roughly” divided into three groups, those related to 1) the planetary scale process (e.g., hydrogen escape), 2) Earth interior processes (e.g., cooling of the Earth, mantle redox, plate tectonics), and 3) the biological evolution and interplay between primary productivity and organic burial.
Instructors: T. Bosak, O. Jagoutz, S. Ono

12.095/ 12.S591  Seminar on Possible Earthquake Prediction
Units:  6
Schedule:  Wed 2:30 – 4:30PM, 54-824

Description:  TBA
Instructor:  F.D. Morgan

12.S493  Mass Spectometry for Geobiologists
Units:  TBA
Schedule: T 3:30pm-5:00pm, E25-605

Description TBA
Instructor:  R. Summons

12.S592  Mass Spectometry for Geobiologists
Units:  9
Schedule: F 10:00m-12:00pm, 54-1623

Follow on subject to the Spring class on Machine Learning that enables one to design Learning-based approaches for geophysical applications. Topics from the following areas are studied, based on class interest: Non-Parametric Bayesian Inference, Graphical Models, Trees and Forests, Kernel Machines, Ensemble Learning, Manifold Learning, Transfer Learning, and Recurrent and Deep Learning. See subject website for more information.
Instructor:  S. Ravela

12.S593 Using Ambient Seismic Noise as Signal for Tomography, Imaging, and Monitoring
Units:  6
Schedule:  Will run from Feb. 19 - April 6th on Thursday from 9am - 11am in 54-517

Since the first seismic records in the late 19th century, seismic waves have been extensively used to scan the structure of the Earth. The realization that background, erratic, seismic noise can be used as an ubiquitous source of useful signal has recently revolutionized our ability to image the Earth and unravel the functioning of devastating seismic faults and volcanoes. The course will start with a brief introduction of pertinent seismological concepts and theoretical background. It will then address how one can obtain information about the structure and deformation of the Earth’s interior from seismic noise. The course introduces theory of noise-based seismology and monitoring and shows fascinating examples in the domains of volcanoes, earthquakes, and hydrocarbon reservoirs.  Time permitting, the course will also cover some aspects of inverse scattering with application to crust and mantle studies.
Instructor:  Florent Brenguier

12.S595 Multiphase Fluid Flow in Porous Permeable Media
Units:  6
Schedule:  Will run from April 2 - May 17 on TTh 2-4pm in 54-824

Multiphase fluid flow in porous/permeable media has broad application to ground water hydrology, oil/gas reservoirs, and for CO2 sequestration and storage.  The course will cover the basic physical properties of fluids and numerical solution methods for single- and multi-phase flow.  Stability and convergence of the linear and non-linear systems will be discussed for selecting the proper algorithms.  Numerical methods for one-, two-, and three-dimensional flow with capillarity effects will be presented.  The course will include hands-on computation exercises and encourage the participants to select a project on which to work as an individual or as a team.
Instructor:  Ali Dogru

12.S991 Reading Course on Latent Heat Effects on Extratropical Weather
Units:  TBA
Schedule:  TBA

After reviewing some essential moist thermodynamics, we will read through individual papers dealing with the effects of phase change of water on middle latitude systems such as fronts and cyclones.
Instructor: Kerry Emanuel

IAP 2018

12.S591   Image Analysis in the Geosciences
Units: 12
Schedule:  Week 3, 9:00am - 5:00pm, 14-0637

The aim of the workshop is to familiarize participants with a number of image processing and analysis methods which will allow them to derive quantitative measurements from images. We will focus on the analysis of rock microstructures from sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks. We will cover the topics of image segmentation, area and volume estimation, size and shape analysis and much more. The workshop consist of morning lectures and afternoon hands-on practice. The participants are encouraged to bring their own images of samples they would like to analyze. Participants taking the course for credit will be required to finish a short project.
Instructor: M. Pec

12.091/ 12.S593   Origin of Life Seminar Series
Units:  3
Schedule:  1/10, 1/11, 1/29 at 4:00pm in 54-915 & 2/2 at 4:00pm in E25-605

A series of hosted lectures from leaders in the Origin of Life community, focusing on various dimensions of one of the most challenging problems in the biological and planetary sciences.  Topics will include the origin of cells, metabolism, replication and proteins, as well as the geochemical conditions on the Early Earth that led to prebiotic and early biotic systems.  Enrolled students will attend 4-5 seminars during IAP, actively engage in Q & A sessions with invited speakers in a panel format, and collaborate on creating an Origins of Life online blog resource highlighting the work of invited speakers.
Instructor: G. Fournier