Annette Summers Engel
Donald H. Jones Professor of Aqueous Geochemistry
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Teaching

Courses Taught 

GEOL 101 - The Dynamic Earth (4 credits)
This course provides students with current knowledge of the field of geology by exploring the physical processes within and upon the Earth’s surface, including the formation of rocks, plate tectonics and earthquakes, and landscapes. 3 lecture hours and one 2-hour lab or field period. This is a 4-credit course with a lecture and laboratory component. The lab gives students a hands-on experience with Earth materials, with landform interpretations, and provides examination of processes affecting the Earth.
 
Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:
1) Define and apply relevant terminology in the earth sciences;
2) Gain an appreciation for processes that have created landforms on the Earth;
3) Identify key geological evidence used to determine how the earth evolved through time;
4) Develop skills related to the scientific method; and
5) Appreciate geological resources connected to human needs, while understanding that there are consequences of human disturbance of the environment.

Degree-Level Learning Objective: Demonstrate an understanding of Earth's (and other planetary systems’) physical systems.
 
GEOL 460/560 - Principles of Geochemistry / Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry
(4 credits)
A survey of fundamental geochemical principles as applied to the fate and transport of inorganic and organic constituents in natural waters. Topics include thermodynamics, activity-concentration relations, mineral solubility and stability, chemical speciation and redox state of natural waters, and water-rock-biota interactions. Course will emphasize geochemical modeling to test hypotheses, explore assumptions, approximations, and equilibria in natural geochemical systems. Contact Hour Distribution: 3 lecture hours and one 2-hour tutorial. Recommended Background: General Chemistry, Mathematics (through Calculus), Mineralogy, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, or consent of instructor. 
 
GEOL 465 - Geomicrobiology (3 credits)
An introduction to the interactions between microbes and earth materials (rock, soil, water). The course will identify and evaluate key biogeochemical and genetic evidence used to determine biotic from abiotic processes in modern and ancient systems. Topics include microbial ecology and diversity, community structure, biogeochemistry, molecular biology, major environmental habitats, astrobiology, and geomicrobiological applications for geology, engineering, and mining. Recommended Background: Two 100-level geology courses, one lab course in geology and 1 lab course in chemistry, or consent of instructor. Can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit. 
 
GEOL 452 - Cave and Karst Geology (3 credits)
Introduction to speleology, with emphasis on the identification and evaluation of chemical, physical, and hydrologic controls that result in dissolution of bedrock, cave formation, and karst landscape development. Interdisciplinary topics include carbonate geochemistry, hydrology, speleogenesis, solute and sediment transport, paleokarst, geomoprhology, exploitation and management of karst and karst hazards. Exercises include scientific data collection, numerical calculations, model development, and interpretation. At least one field trip will be required. Recommended Background: Two 100-level geology courses, one lab course in geology and 1 lab course in chemistry, introductory calculus, or consent of instructor. Can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit. 
 
GEOL 660 - Seminar in Geochemistry (3 credits) (graduate seminars covering various topics)
 
"Slime through Time"  
This seminar explores various topics related to the microbial activities, biogeochemical and ecological processes, and preservation potential through time of recent to ancient life on Earth. Each week, discussions will focus on preserved ancient examples that have been interpreted as having modern analogues, and investigating how those modern microbial systems function and potentially become part of the sediment and rock record. This interdisciplinary seminar is designed for students interested in microbial geochemistry, experimental geomicrobiology, microbial ecology, paleogeobiology, and sedimentology. The only prerequisite is graduate standing.
 
Seminar Objectives: Students will increase their discussion abilities and leadership from participating in, and leading, weekly discussions. Students will build upon their skill set to interpret complex (geo)microbiological, geochemical, ecological, and geological data presented in the primary literature. Upon completion of the seminar, students should be able to describe (1) the interrelated geochemical, biological, and geological processes associated with modern microbial systems, (2) the leading hypotheses, and supporting and refuting evidence, regarding how microbial life processes, from actual cells to organic biomarkers, become and are preserved in the rock record, (3) the nature and origin of key biomarkers associated with sedimentary deposits throughout Earth’s history, (4) the distinction between biotic and abiotic geochemical processes that often confuse interpretations of Earth’s past biogeochemical cycles, and (5) the relevance of the subject matter broadly to their own research and scientific 
 
"Organic Geochemistry of Petroleum Reservoirs"  
This seminar explores various topics as they apply to the field of petroleum geochemistry. Upon completion of the seminar, students should be able to describe:
1) the interrelated geochemical, biological, and geological processes that lead to economic petroleum deposits, including diagenesis of organic matter into oil,
2) the leading hypotheses concerning hydrocarbon (liquid and gas) migration from source rock to reservoir,
3) the nature and origin of compositional variability of water associated with petroleum reservoirs,
4) the effects of biogeochemical processes on the evolution of porosity in reservoir rocks, and
5) the differences in the origin and development of conventional and unconventional resources.
 
Students will learn to interpret complex petroleum-related geochemical data and increase
their leadership abilities from weekly discussions of the primary literature.
  
"Introduction to Geochemical Modeling"
Geochemical modeling is an important tool to understand physical, chemical, and biological processes that affect energy flow and the distribution of chemical species in liquids, gases, and solids. This seminar introduces geochemical modeling for mass balance, equilibrium, fractionation, and microbial decomposition, as well as reaction kinetics and reactive transport. The seminar is aimed at graduate students with interests in knowing what controls the chemical composition of waters and which (bio)geochemical processes occur in aquatic, terrestrial, experimental, or polluted systems. Thermodynamics principles, related to relative levels and transfers of energy, and reaction kinetics are used to understand reactions and transport processes. Data integrity is reviewed. Datasets are provided for work outside of the classroom, and students will also work with their own data. Lastly, communication skills are emphasized, and students will lead discussions based on the primary literature.
 
Course Learning Objectives: The current state of geochemical modeling will be introduced by examining scientific studies and discipline advances. This seminar will be more course-like, with a mix of lectures, hands-on activities, and discussions. Upon completion of the seminar, students should be able to:
1) Define and apply relevant terminology in geochemistry that applies to modeling;
2) Gain an appreciation for how to conceptualize and apply models to a geochemical problem;
3) Evaluate the validity of modeling results based on thermodynamics and kinetics principles, 
      as well as geological, hydrogeochemical, and even microbiological processes;
4) Develop critical thinking and quantitative skills to become a better scientist; and
5) Demonstrate proficiency in written and oral communication.
 

Teaching Philosophy

This is a short version of my teaching philosophy:
 
My teaching philosophy centers on balance. I am guided by key pedagogical tenets that focus on guidance, motivation, relevance, design, criticism, and delivery to safeguard a balanced teaching approach. I am passionate about teaching and being a professor and students deserve to know that they have passionate professors. Being a professor for me is a lifestyle commitment that I have embraced enthusiastically. I incorporate a number of strategies to guide, motivate, and encourage students to place intrinsic value on a subject or their research, and to help students rise to a high level of expectation (if not surpass it). I carefully design my courses with content-rich material, challenging assignments, rigorous reading loads, and essay exams to teach students subject matter, but also to train them to think critically about knowledge and their journey to acquire knowledge. Then, I ask students to reflect on homework assignments, exams, overall course progress, and their experiences to understand what was challenging or why they were successful. The act of reflection is not meant to acknowledge or accept narcissistic behavior, but instead should help students to realize the role they play in their education. Reflection also helps students to overcome a fear they may have about showing lack of skill, knowledge, or comprehension if they ask questions; sometimes students think that they should have already acquired skills or knowledge prior to a course or experience. This fear indicates to me that students have not been trained to think about how they acquire knowledge or how they gain skills. Students who learn how to identify and accept limitations for what they are, as well as to recognize the differences between old and new knowledge, can then learn how to confront limitations without appearing unprepared or risking failure. Generally, through reflection, students begin to see where they can improve and they start to gain a sense of accomplishment for what has been learned and what they know.   
Geochemistry. Geomicrobiology. Geology. Ecology.

Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Tennessee