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.

Mark Lever: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2020

Name Prof. Dr. Mark Lever
FieldEnvironmental Microbiology
Professur für Umweltmikrobiologie
ETH Zürich, CHN G 50.3
Universitätstrasse 16
8092 Zürich
Telephone+41 44 632 85 27
DepartmentEnvironmental Systems Science
RelationshipAssistant Professor (Tenure Track)

551-0386-00LMicrobial Ecology Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 15.

The enrolment is done by the D-BIOL study administration.
6 credits7GM.  Lever
AbstractMicroorganisms can be found in most terrestrial and aquatic habitats where they catalyze a broad variety of biological and biogeochemical processes. Throughout the course „Microbial Ecology“ the basic concepts of microbial structures and functions in natural ecosystems are discussed. Excursions, lab experiments and literature studies help to illustrate selected topics.
ObjectiveIn this course, students shall familiarize themselves with the basic and essential understanding of what enables microbial life in its natural habitat. Students will understand what essential factors are needed to support microbial life in its natural habitat. Course participants will also be able to identify and determine the microbial structures and functions in aquatic and terrestrial systems, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
ContentDer Kurs umfasst Vorlesungen, experimentelle Arbeiten, Exkursionen und Literaturstudien. Teile der Vorlesung “Umweltmikrobiologie“ (Dozenten M. Lever & M. Schroth) werden in den Kurs inkorporiert. Im Rahmen von experimentellen Arbeiten werden die Studierenden lernen, traditionelle wie auch molekulare mikrobiologische Methoden gezielt einzusetzen. Darüber hinaus werden die Studierenden lernen, mikrobiell ökologische Fragestellungen mit Hilfe von biogeochemischen Methoden anzugehen. Ausgewählte Facetten der mikrobiellen Ökologie (z.B. Quellen und Senken von Methan, Interaktion von Mikroorganismen mit mineralischen Oberflächen, mikrobielle Energie- und Nährstoffkreisläufe) werden mit Hilfe von Exkursionen und Literaturstudien vertieft.
Lecture notesSchriftliche Unterlagen werden im Verlaufe des Kurses abgegeben.
LiteratureBrock Biology of Microorganisms, Prentice Hall, 2003
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
701-1302-00LTerm 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").
701-1310-00LEnvironmental Microbiology3 credits2VM. H. Schroth, M.  Lever
AbstractMicroorganisms catalyze a large number of reactions that are of great importance to terrestrial and aquatic environments. To improve our understanding of the dynamics of a specific environment, it is important to gain a better understanding of microbial structures and their functions under varying environmental conditions.
ObjectiveStudents will learn basic concepts in microbial ecology. Qualitative and quantitative concepts will be presented to assess microbial communities and associated processes in terrestrial and aquatic environments. Microbial diversity in such ecosystems will be illustrated in discussions of selected habitats.
ContentLectures will cover general concepts of environmental microbiology including (i) quantification of microbial processes, (ii) energy fluxes in microbial ecosystems, (iii) application of state-of-the-art microbiological and molecular tools, and (iv) use of isotope methods for identification of microbial structures and functions.
Topics to illustrate the microbial diversity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems will include (i) interactions between microbes and mineral/metallic solid phases, (ii) microbial carbon and nutrient cycling, (iii) microbial processes involved in the turnover of greenhouse gases, (iv) biofilms and microbial mats, (v) bioremediation, (vi) microorganisms in extreme habitats, and (vii) microbial evolution and astrobiology.
Lecture notesavailable at time of lecture - will be distributed electronically as pdf's
LiteratureBrock Biology of Microorganisms, Madigan M. et al., Pearson, 14th ed., 2015