Workshop Summer 2022: Stable Isotopes

Join us for a free summer workshop

An Introduction to Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen Stable Isotopes: Application to Earth, Environmental and Climate Sciences

To be held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, June 21-24

In this hands-on workshop, you will learn about light stable isotopes and their numerous applications to environmental and climate science

Open to undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, high school STEM teachers, and faculty

Light stable isotopes of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen are important tools for many scientific disciplines. In this workshop, you will gain an introduction to stable isotopes and their diverse applications to environmental and climate sciences. Some of the topics to be covered include isotopic tracers of the water cycle, using carbonates as archives of climate and environmental change, isotopes of carbon dioxide and dissolved inorganic carbon, and plant wax isotopes as tools for reconstructing rainfall and vegetation type. While this course will focus on environmental isotopes, applications to other fields including forensics, anthropology, ecology, and food science will be discussed.

  • Parking passes will be provided to all participants. Funds are available to cover mileage and hotel expenses (if needed).
  • No prior background or experience with isotopes is necessary.
  • All participants will gain hands-on experience with sample prep, operating analytical equipment including mass spectrometers, and analyzing and processing isotope data
  • Learn how stable isotopes can be used to investigate a wide range of scientific questions.
  • Options for obtaining course credits at the undergraduate or graduate level may be possible. Please contact us for more information.

Do you need water, carbonate or biomarker isotopic measurements for your own research? We may be able to help! Tell us about your project, the number of samples, and the type(s) of isotopic measurements you wish to make. We have some capacity to analyze samples for students and early career scientists.


Isla Castañeda

Isla Castañeda is an associate professor with a joint position between the Department of Geosciences and Commonwealth Honors College. Her expertise lies in the fields of organic geochemistry, stable isotope geochemistry and paleoclimate. Her main research focus is on understanding past climate and environmental change though using ancient lipids from plants and microbes that are preserved in lake and ocean sediments. Her research uses stable carbon and hydrogen isotopes of plant waxes to reconstruct vegetation type (C3 vs C4 plants) and hydroclimate.

Jeff Salacup

Jeff Salacup is the manager of the Biogeochemistry and Stable Isotope Laboratories at UMass Amherst. His research focuses on the application of elemental, isotopic, and organic geochemical techniques to ancient and modern ocean, coastal, and lacustrine sediments and waters in order to reconstruct past environments and ecosystems within a framework of modern processes.

Stephen Burns

Stephen Burns is a professor in the Department of Geosciences and is presently the Department Head. His min reserach focus is on reconstructing past climates using speleothems (cave deposits such as stalagmites and stalactites). Speleothems faithfully record changes in the climate signal contained in oxygen isotope ratios of rainfall. Carbon isotope ratios of speleothem calcite and trace element compositions can provide additional paleoenvironmental information.

Matt Winnick

Matt Winnick is an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences. His research uses stable isotope geochemistry and reactive transport modeling to investigate how terrestrial water and carbon cycles are coupled in the modern and during key intervals of Earth’s history. Current research topics include (1) quantifying links between chemical weathering rates and organic carbon cycling in soils; (2) evolution of the silicate weathering feedback and its relation to climate through Earth history; (3) characterizing the controls of CO2 fluxes and variability from soils and streams; and (4) using stable isotopes of water to quantify evapotranspiration fluxes in modern- and paleo-terrestrial systems.

To apply, please fill out this short form by June 3, 2022. Participants will be contacted with additional information.

Questions? Please contact Isla Castañeda ( or Jeff Salacup (