Using basic redox chemistry, thermodynamics, mass balances, simple kinetic expressions, and fundamental transport terms, the essence of the functional behaviour of microbial ecosystems can be captured and analyzed. As teacher, I try to convey the message that having a firm foundation in these fundamentals provides essential building blocks that allow for channelling creativity and curiosity based development of scientific and engineering skills. As teacher in the LST-masters program I try to convey this approach from an engineering perspective (in the Fermentation Technology and Environmental Biotechnology course) and an ecological perspective (in the Microbial Community Engineering course). Thermodynamic state analysis of microbial ecosystems provides a firm foundation and first generalization of microbial processes and is often overlooked. I therefore developed a post-graduate course on Environmental Thermodynamics that I teach upon request.
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