Summer School 2019

Solute Imaging Summer School 2019

High-resolution chemical imaging of solutes in soils and sediments

We are pleased to announce the 1st international Summer School on high-resolution chemical imaging of solutes in soils and sediments, which will be held between September 12th and 18th, 2019 at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.

The aim of this Summer School is to teach the theoretical background and practical application of two-dimensional solute visualisation techniques, which allow for multi-analyte visualization of a broad range of solute parameters (metal(loid)s, oxyanions, O2, pH, enzyme activity) in soils and sediments at high spatial (µm-mm) and temporal resolution (min-h).

In the last two decades, biogeochemists and researchers from environmental science disciplines (water, soil, rhizosphere and sediment research) focussed increasingly on the investigation of small-scale biogeochemical processes. To facilitate the investigation of sub-mm biogeochemical gradients, solute sampling and sensing techniques were adapted for two-dimensional chemical imaging, advancing the existing analytical capabilities tremendously. Today, a number of studies has shown the high relevance and potential of solute imaging techniques for revealing highly localised biogeochemical processes.

In addition to the high spatial resolution that can be obtained, many solute imaging techniques rely on passive sampling/sensing and are low-invasive, which renders them ideal tools in complex environments like the rhizosphere or aquatic sediments. This summer school is the first to teach the theory and application of a set of state-of-the-art solute imaging techniques. Our teacher team brings together leading method developers, who will pass on their expertise to a small group of PhD students and young Postdocs. The intense lab week in September 2019 is complemented by literature work before and a report on the lab work after the lab course.

We encourage all interested PhD students and early-career Postdocs to apply and to be part of this unique hands-on learning experience. We are looking forward to intense lab work, inspiring scientific discussions and a lot of fun in and around the lab.

Christoph Hoefer and Jakob Santner
on behalf of the teaching and organising team

Course Structure and Content

This Summer School consists of several parts, combining e-learning content, theoretical lectures about the techniques, practical lab work in the form of mini-projects and a final presentation of the lab results. The course aims on training applicants at a postgraduate level (PhD students) and young researchers. The applicants are selected based on their motivation letter, where they are required to highlight their research interest and potential application of solute imaging techniques to their current research project. Apart from the motivation letter, the applicant need to show an academic record in a related scientific field (e.g. soil, sediment and plant sciences, environmental science, environmental chemistry, biogeochemistry, oceanography) and appropriate language skills (English, minimum B2). To keep high quality in teaching and a narrow teacher-to-student ratio, the number of participants is limited to 20 students.

In the course, we focus on hands-on learning using mini-projects (mesocosm experiments), where students learn to apply chemical image techniques. The techniques covered in this course are

  • Diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT)
  • Chemical analysis using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and colorimetry
  • Diffusive equilibration in thin films (DET)
  • Chemical analysis using colorimetry
  • Planar optodes
  • Soil zymography

Apart from applying the techniques on samples, the associated analytical chemical techniques and image processing will be presented and discussed, including colorimetric techniques, fluorescent sensing, laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and digital image processing. The participants will be able to learn and share their results in small groups and exchange knowledge throughout the course.

Course Assessment and Grading

Prior the practical part of this course, the students will prepare a literature review on chemical imaging techniques and applications, after the workshop, the participants will prepare a lab report. The literature review, the presentation of the lab work on the last course day, and the written report will be graded.
The course comprises 5 ECTS.

Chemical Imaging Smiley

Chemical Smiley, created/analysed during the method development experiments for a simultaneous anion-cation DGT imaging technique, showing the phosphorus distribution on a DGT resin gel disc. Courtesy of Dr. Andreas Kreuzeder.

Teaching Team

Key dates

  • 01.04.2019 Student application deadline
  • 01.05.2019 Acceptance notification
  • 11.07.2019 Start of online course
  • 11.09.2019 Submission deadline for literature review
  • 12.09.2019–17.09.2019 Solute Imaging Summer School (8 am to 5 pm)

A night out

We will organise a joint dinner on Saturday 14th September at a nice place in Vienna. Let’s see what we are up to afterwards 😉

Costs & Accomodation

The course costs are € 500 – covering lab costs and materials, food (coffees & lunch) on the course days, a group dinner in a restaurant in Vienna, and accommodation (incl. breakfast) for 6 nights in Tulln. Walking time to the course venue is 20–30 minutes.

The course fee and the accommodation costs have to be paid via bank transfer after acceptance to the course in spring 2019.


Submit your applications to before or on 01.04.2019. Your application has to include:

  • Summer School Application Form (filled out completely and signed by applicant and supervisor) You can download the form here »
  • Curriculum vitae including academic record (one page)
  • Motivation letter, including a brief outline on how solute imaging might be included in your current research project (one page)
  • Scan/Copy of your University Certificate (MSc, PhD)

The venue

UFT Tulln

The course will be held in the laboratories of the Division of Agronomy and of the Institute of Soil Science at UFT Tulln, a campus of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. The campus is located in Tulln, a town situated at the river Danube, 30 km northwest of Vienna. Tulln is well connected to Vienna’s international airport (VIE) and to international railway lines.

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Konrad-Lorenz-Strasse 24
3430 Tulln, Austria

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For inquiries and questions, please contact