Review Comment

[V3101] Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet

January 24, 2018

Plank, Terry Gold_nugget
[V3101] Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet

I loved this class. Terry Plank is incredibly helpful, cool, and is actually fantastic at teaching. Take this class if you are at all interested in earth science, chemistry, or space. Terry's lectures were extremely engaging and everything in the homeworks and exams were in her lectures, so come to class and take good notes! Unlike a normal intro to geochemistry class, Terry teaches everything as a chronological story, tracing atoms from the bang bang to star/planet formation and then through the geological history of Earth. I hadn't studied earth science since middle school, but the material was fascinating!

I can't recommend this class enough. You should take it, even just to get to know Terry and hear all about her research adventures. Her excitement for the material is contagious, and you will leave class knowing and caring way more about earth science than you ever thought you would.

Workload:

The six or so homework assignments weren't too difficult and office hours were useful. Exams covered a lot of information and required a lot of studying, but they were very fair and only featured information that was discussed in class and homeworks. There was also a short lab component towards the end of the semester involving taking water samples from the Hudson and analyzing them at Lamont. Overall the workload wasn't too bad and everything was fairly graded.

December 20, 2017

Plank, Terry Gold_nugget
[V3101] Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet

Terry Plank is an amazing professor. Anyone vaguely interested in earth sciences and geochemistry should take her class! Her class is divided up into three sections roughly, planetary synthesis and the early solar system, the formation and differentiation of the solid earth, and the effect of life systems on the earth. It's really cool how you can understand the conditions that make up our Earth at the end of the class!

She is an excellent lecturer and is often very patient with anyone who has questions. Plus she's a MacArthur Genius Grant Winner! So she's brilliant. You don't need to be hardcore earth science major to take this class although previous experience definitely does help. There are four problem sets and 2 in class exams. Though a great lecturer and a very nice lady, her assignments should not be taken lightly. Definitely dedicate a reasonable amount of time to her class.

Often times she brings vegetables to give to her class from her farm share. So just really providing in more ways than 1.

Workload:

Decent, 4 problem sets, 2 exams, a final, and a group project. Participation is 16% of the class so definitely ask questions!

November 20, 2017

Plank, Terry Gold_nugget
[V3101] Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet

Terry Plank is my hero. This woman is the reason I chose my major. Her lectures are honestly inspiring and so brilliant. She's hilarious and super down to earth (even though she's literally a MacArthur genius). Her Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet course is the highlight of my week. The problem sets are definitely difficult but extremely rewarding. Her lectures are very engaging and provide all of the material necessary to do well on the tests/psets. She definitely values being able to apply knowledge more than rote memorization, so it's worth it to go to office hours and work through the concepts. On the whole would 10/10 recommend this class to anyone interested in chemistry or earth science.

Workload:

Standard for a non-lab 3 credit class. 3 psets throughout the semester, a few hours each. Difficult but doable given the information in her lectures.

December 29, 2013

Plank, Terry Gold_nugget
[V3101] Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If you like Earth Science, TAKE. THIS. CLASS. One question on the final was "trace an atom of Iron from the big bang to your body.” And you can do it by the end of the class! How cool is that?

Terry is an incredible lecturer. I don't think her TedTalk is up on YouTube yet, but she practiced it on us and it was only slightly more inspiring and engaging than her typical lecture format. She does a great job presenting science as a story: a chronological story of where molecules came from and how they came together to make the Earth and Solar System as we know it (starting with the Big Bang and ending with how copper mines work), and a story of trial and error by scientists. It's really a joy to have her as a professor, whether you have an intense academic interest in the material or just have a layman's fascination.

I took Solid Earth before this class and Climate concurrently. I think this is a great way to do things. From the very start, Terry throws around names of minerals and rocks and geological time periods without always explaining what they are. While you don’t need to know much about them to get what she’s saying, the Geochemistry material will be a lot more meaningful if you have a working familiarity with the geology and everything will be easier to remember if you aren’t learning the mineralogy/petrology vocabulary at the same time. We don’t cover climate topics until the last third or so of the semester. By that point, if you’re co-enrolled in Climate, some of it is a nice review of what you’ve been doing in that class. Terry is a lot less comprehensive in going over things like Milankovitch oscillations than the Climate course is, so I’m sure those parts of the Geochemistry material would be a lot tougher without some Climate background.

In terms of Chemistry, if you never really got GenChem, this class is going to be a lot tougher for you. If you want to spend a couple weeks reviewing over the summer or something, practice balancing equations, equilibrium constants, energy of reactions, “mass balance” (mixing two solutions and figuring out the concentrations in the end solution), and alpha/beta/gamma decay. It’s nothing beyond GenChem, but deeply understanding the chemistry will make it much easier for you to focus on geological applications. Orgo is a very small topic in this class and you only need a very cursory understanding (Carbons bond together, they make chains sometimes and rings sometimes). Terry does quickly review all of these topics in class but, if you have trouble with all of them, that is going to add up.

Workload:

The reading is not necessary, but the problem sets and studying for the tests can take some time. You will also need to devote about half a day to participating in some way in a research project: collecting rock samples or shooting them with lasers at Lamont or playing with an Excel spreadsheet. As another reviewer mentioned, you need to take very thorough notes because her powerpoint slides are adorable and helpful but do not stand alone as a study tool. There's a decent curve (probably bumped my grade up 5%) and once you've seen her first test you know what to expect. Problem sets and tests are worth about the same, so you have a lot of control over your grade.

January 15, 2013

Plank, Terry Gold_nugget
[V3101] Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I cannot believe no one has written a review of Prof. Plank before.

In short, she is my hero. She is nice, SUPER-approachable, down to earth (literally), and, despite the fact that she is a MACARTHUR GENIUS, extremely humble.

This class is also extremely interesting and enjoyable, though definitely not easy. The subject matter is presented as a story, taking you from the formation of the elements in the stars, to the sun, the earth, the crust, the continent, the oceans, all the way to how the elements behave in river chemistry. Despite the storybook format, the topics can be quite technical, and will draw pretty heavily on your Gen Chem knowledge.

Her tests ask you to draw on very specific details, so beware--they're pretty tough. Her lectures go fast, and they make complete sense when she explains them, but when you go back, her notes by themselves don't make much sense. TAKE NOTES LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.

If you're a DEES major or if you've taken Chemistry and want to learn something fascinating from the coolest person on earth, then take this class. Prof. Plank deserves a gold nugget.

Workload:

Readings that you KINDA have to do. 4 Problem Sets which WILL take a long time (mostly because her instructions aren't very clear) that are each worth 8%. Analytical Project that was actually a lot of fun because you get to zap things with a laser and feel like a scientist. 2 tough midterms (worth 15% each) and a final (23%)

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
EESC / EESC EESC EESC V3101: Geochem for a Habitable Planet Terry Plank 2012 Fall TR / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1