From 2 November 2020, the autumn semester 2020 will take place online. Exceptions: Courses that can only be carried out with on-site presence. Please note the information provided by the lecturers via e-mail.

Kristopher McNeill: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2020

Name Prof. Dr. Kristopher McNeill
FieldEnvironmental Chemistry
I. f. Biogeochemie/Schadstoffdyn.
ETH Zürich, CHN F 31.2
Universitätstrasse 16
8092 Zürich
Award: The Golden Owl
Telephone+41 44 632 47 55
DepartmentEnvironmental Systems Science
RelationshipFull Professor

701-0208-00LIntroduction to Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology
Does not take place this semester.
Prerequisites: Chemistry I & II and Microbiology.
1 credit1GM.  Lever, K. McNeill
AbstractWith excursions the students gain insights into scientific as well as practical aspects of various areas in which environmental chemistry and microbiology play a key role. Topics include a.o. waste water treatment, landfills, drinking water purification, impact of agriculture on surface water quality and environmental assessment of synthetic chemicals.
ObjectiveLearning of typical problems in environmental chemistry and microbiology. Applying basic knowledge of chemistry and microbiology to environmentally relevant problems.
ContentDiscussion of case studies combined with excursions.
Lecture notesMoodle (
Zusätzliche Unterlagen werden evtl. abgegeben.
Prerequisites / NoticeChemistry I and II and Microbiology
701-0420-01LPractical Training in Biogeochemistry Information 7 credits14PL. Winkel, P. U. Lehmann Grunder, K. McNeill, M. H. Schroth, A. Voegelin, S. Winton
AbstractFirst, the students learn how to analyze soil systems with physical, chemical and microbiological methods. Later, the students train their experimental skills by conducting kinetic experiments in the laboratory and by quantifying process rates under field conditions in a river.
ObjectiveThe students learn to apply physical, chemical and microbiological analysis tools in the laboratroy and the field. They use their theoretical knowledge to interpret their own data, and to critically assess and document them.
Lecture notesDescriptions of the methodologies will be provided.
701-1302-00LTerm Paper 2: Seminar Restricted registration - show details
Limited number of participants.

Only for Environmental Sciences MSc.

Prerequisite: Term Paper 1: Writing (701-1303-00L).
2 credits2SL. Winkel, M. Ackermann, N. Gruber, J. Hering, R. Kretzschmar, M.  Lever, K. McNeill, A. N'Guyen van Chinh, D. Or, M. H. Schroth, B. Wehrli
AbstractThis class is the 2nd part of a series and participation is conditional on the successful completion of "Term Paper 1: Writing". The results from the term paper written during the previous term are presented to the other students and advisors and discussed with the audience.
ObjectiveThe goal of the term paper seminars is to train the student's ability to communicate (scientific) results to a wider audience and the ability to respond to questions and comments.
ContentEach student presents the results of their term paper to fellow students and advisors and responds to questions and comments from the audience.
Lecture notesGuidelines and supplementary material are distributed on the Moodle platform.
Prerequisites / NoticeThere is no final exam. Grade is assigned based on the quality of the presentation and ensuing discussion.

To obtain the credits, it is mandatory to attend at least 60% of all seminar dates offered in the fall and spring semester. Active participation in discussion and feedback rounds is expected.
701-1303-00LTerm Paper 1: Writing Restricted registration - show details
Only for Environmental Sciences MSc and Science, Technology and Policy MSc.
5 credits6AL. Winkel, M. Ackermann, N. Gruber, J. Hering, R. Kretzschmar, M.  Lever, K. McNeill, A. N'Guyen van Chinh, D. Or, M. H. Schroth, B. Wehrli
AbstractThe ability to critically evaluate original (scientific) literature and to summarise the information in a succinct manner is an important skill for any student. This course aims to practice this ability, requiring each student to write a term paper of scientific quality on a topic of relevance for research in the areas of biogeochemistry and pollutant dynamics.
ObjectiveThe goal of the term paper is to train the student's ability to critically evaluate scientific literature and to summarise the findings concisely in a paper addressing a research question.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- narrow down a research question.
- identify relevant literature to address the research question.
- concisely summarise and critically evaluate their findings.
- formulate key outstanding questions.
ContentEach student is expected to write a paper with a length of approximately 15-20 pages. The students can choose from a list of topics prepared by the tutors, but the final topic will be determined based on a balance of choice and availability. The students will be guided and advised by their tutors throughout the term.

The paper itself should contain the following elements:
- Motivation and context of the given topic (25%)
- Concise presentation and critical evaluation of the state of the science (50%)
- Identification of open questions and perhaps outline of opportunities for research (25%)

In addition, the accurate use of citations, attribution of ideas, and the judicious use of figures, tables, equations and references are critical components of a successful paper. Specialised knowledge is not expected, nor required; neither is new research.
Lecture notesGuidelines and supplementary material are distributed on the Moodle platform.
LiteratureOriginal scientific literature will be identified based on the chosen topic.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe term paper course is primarily aimed at master students majoring in biogeochemistry & pollutant dynamics and ISTP students with a solid background in natural sciences and a strong interest in biogeochemistry & pollutant dynamics.

Each students submits a term paper that will be reviewed by one fellow student and one faculty. The submission of the term paper and a written review of another student's term paper are a condition for obtaining the credit points.

There is no final exam. Grade is assigned based on the quality of the term paper and the submitted review as well as on the presentation in the following term.

Results from the term paper will be presented to fellow students and involved faculty in the following semester ("Term Paper 2: Seminar").
701-1314-00LEnvironmental Organic Chemistry3 credits2VK. McNeill, T. Hofstetter, M. Sander
AbstractThis course is focused on environmental transformation reactions of organic chemical contaminants. An overview of important fate processes of organic pollutants will be given, along with a discussion of the factors that determine pathways and rates of transformation reactions. Special emphasis will be given to redox transformations, photochemical reactions, and enzyme-catalyzed processes.
ObjectiveThe students will
- further their knowledge of important classes of environmentally relevant organic compounds
- become familiar with the tools for studying reaction mechanisms
- learn the fundamentals of environmental photochemistry
- obtain a detailed understanding of redox reactions of pollutants and biogeochemically important species
- get a survey of important enzymatic transformations
- learn to critically evaluate published data
Content- Methods and tools used in the study of reaction mechanisms and kinetics
- Environmental photochemistry, including direct and indirect photolysis
- Redox properties of important environmental phases and redox reactions of organic pollutants
- Enzyme-catalyzed reactions involved in environmentally important enzymatic processes
Lecture notesMaterials that are needed beyond the required text will be distributed in the lecture.
LiteratureSchwarzenbach, R.P., P.M. Gschwend, and D.M. Imboden. Environmental Organic Chemistry. 3rd Ed. Wiley, New York (2016).
Prerequisites / NoticeIntroduction to Environmental Organic Chemistry, Bachelor 5th semester, M. Sander, K. McNeill
701-1350-00LCase Studies in Environment and Health4 credits2VK. McNeill, N. Borduas-Dedekind, T. Julian
AbstractThis course will focus on a few individual chemicals and pathogens from different standpoints: their basic chemistry or biology, their environmental behavior, (eco)toxicology, and human health impacts. The course will draw out the common points in each chemical or pathogen's history.
ObjectiveThis course aims to illustrate how the individual properties of chemicals and pathogens along with societal pressures lead to environmental and human health crises. The ultimate goal of the course is to identify common aspects that will improve prediction of environmental crises before they occur. Students are expected to participate actively in the course, which includes the critical reading of the pertinent literature and class presentations.
ContentEach class will feature the case study of a different chemical or pathogen that have had a profound effect on human health and the environment. The instructors will present eight to ten of these and the students will present a poster on their own pollutant or pathogen in groups of two. Students will be expected to contribute to the in class discussions and, on their selected topics, to lead the discussion.
Lecture notesHandouts will be provided as needed.
LiteratureHandouts will be provided as needed.