Field course in Geomicrobiology - a joint activity with CUSO

26 August - 1 September 2012

A joint activity with CUSO Doctoral Program in Microbial Sciences .

Organizer: Pilar Junier, University of Neuchâtel



  • Engaging students in carrying out field work under different environmental settings
  • Training students to make observations in natural systems and recording environmental data
  • Transforming field observations into research questions
  • Evaluating the suitability of microbial ecosystems for particular research questions
  • Linking the student’s own research to newly experienced topics
  • Stimulate dialog and interdisciplinary approaches and combine complementary disciplines

Environments studied: Aquatic and terrestrial microbial ecosystems in the high Alps


Content and pre-course assignment

Pre-course assignment

Preparation before the course via the Internet with LMS OLAT (afternoon session in Neuchâtel before the course, if necessary).
The study site will become available for enrolled students at the end of May under the address https://www.olat.uzh.ch/olat/url/RepositoryEntry/5108137985


  • Sunday: Introduction to the course objectives and topics
  • Monday: Lectures (morning). Field work in geomicrobiology in sulfur and iron springs (Alvaneu).
  • Tuesday: Field work in Jöri: Silvretta nappe: Jöri glacier and lake area. Glacial habitats, evolution of ecosystems, nutrient accumulation, UV-protection.
  • Wednesday: Lectures and preparation of reports (morning). Afternoon:Visit to Dischma Valley.
  • Thursday: Lectures (morning). Field work in Totalp: weathering of serpentinite. Weissfluhjoch – Strelapass: transitions serpentinite – gneiss – dolomite.
  • Friday: Field work in Lower Engadin Window: Bündner shist. Iron, carbonate and arsenic habitats in Scuol-Tarasp - Ftan - Fuschna - Nairs – Rablönch – (ev. Val Sinestra)
  • Saturday: visit to Gonzen, former iron mine (ev. Tamina gorge)


  • Lectures and Exercises during the course
  • Practical field work in groups
  • Student presentations towards the end of the course and discussions


General information

Location : Youth Palace, Davos, Canton of Graubunden

Accommodation : 6 nights, from Sunday 26 August evening to Saturday 1 September noon, shared rooms, breakfast and dinner included. Vegetarian food available if pre-ordered. Wi-fi available in the building

Registration fee : CHF 650

  • free for PhD students, who will take the course for credits, and are enrolled at the CUSO doctoral program in Microbial Sciences (10 places available) and Interuniversity doctoral program in organismal biology  (5 places available).
  • For all other participants: CHF 650
  • PhD students who do not need credits, may join if there are free slots left after all those who take the course for credits are accepted. The registration fee in this case is CHF 650

Included: 6 nights accommodation, 6 breakfasts, 6 dinners, taxes, entrance fees, local transports, field trip preparations

Not included: back pack lunches, travel to Davos/Scuol and back, alpine tax on postal bus, insurance.

Travel expenses :

  • For CUSO doctoral program in Microbial sciences participants: see information on the web site
  • Participants in the Interuniversity doctoral program in organismal biology are eligible for reimbursement for the train ticket to Davos/Scuol and back (half-fare card, and 2nd class) from their home University .
    Please send the original tickets (no copies) with the reimbursement form to Christiane Bobillier.
    No reimbursement for alpine tax, bus, taxi or car travel expenses will be paid

Credit points : 2.0 credit points (Research tools activity)

Evaluation : Full attendance and active participation: presenting an assigned topic during the course week.

Information : Please contact Pilar Junier (scientific organizer)

Field guides : will become available on OLAT at the end of May (enrolment in OLAT is required)

Prerequisites : Interested, able to delve into a topic, preparation of topic before the course, and presenting it during the course week

Clothing : Good mountain walking boots, layers of cloths for warm, sunny as well as for rainy, cold weather. The temperature in the mine is 13°C, at 3000 m it can quickly drop to 0°C

Fitness : Walking on save mountain paths but also on rough mountainous terrain and work in the field for 6-9 hrs daily

Insurance : Is the responsibility of each participant, incl. REGA


  • This course is open to all PhD students, however priority is given to PhD students of the 2 doctoral programs until 30 April 2012.
  • Post-docs and master students are welcome as long as places are available (registration fee CHF 650, CUSO master student have the possibility to apply for financial support: contact Christiane Bobillier)
  • Maximum number of participants: 16.

Registration through the web only: closed

CUSO doctoral program in Microbial sciences and DP-biol doctoral program PhD students (free)
all other participants (CHF 650)

Cancellation rules:
If you cancel your registration, you will have to pay:

Until 14June 2012 23:59 [CEST]: nothing (0 %, cancellation without charge)
From 15 June 2012 00:00 [CEST]: CHF 80 (10% + CHF 15 handling charge )
From 21 June 2012 00:00 [CEST]: CHF 210 (30% + CHF 15 handling charge )
From 25 July 2012 00:00 [CEST]: CHF 340 (50% + CHF 15 handling charge)
From 9 August 2012 00:00 [CEST]: CHF 535 (80 % + CHF 15 handling charge
From 23 August 2012 00:00 [CEST]: CHF 665 (100% + CHF 15 handling charge)

Note: The same cancellation rules apply for PhD students of the doctoral programs who do not have to pay a registration fee.
Only written cancellation will be accepted.

Deadline: 14June 2012. Later enrolment is possible as long as there are places available.