As a Marie Curie Initial Training Network (more info...), CSI:Environment is designed to train the next generation of environmental scientist in the emerging field of isotope forensics and biogeochemistry. The training programme for each Fellow will consist of local training at the host, network wide training events, and involvement in the public scientific events as well as regular network meetings.

29-31 October 2014; Closing meeting, Obernai, France

Almost all CSI members attended the meeting. There was a collaborative atmosphere, with fruitful discussions, advices for fellows’ career development, and definition of common scientific perspectives.
The first day (Wednesday 29th) was dedicated to scientific presentations. Fellows presented their current research, practiced their PhD defense, or gave a presentation for a non-scientific public. Selected project supervisors presented an overview of their current research lines and future perspectives.
On Thursday 30th there was a “career café” session, for the fellows to discuss about career perspectives. This was followed by the assessment and recommendations from the advisory board about CSI:Environment activities and the ITN programme. In the afternoon we had some time for “fresh air and discussion”.
On Friday 31st we had the final sessions, starting with the assessment of CSI:Environment from the coordinator’s perspective. This was followed by a session to define the steps for the preparation of new collaborative projects. Then there was a session about administrative issues. To finalize meeting there was time for discussion and the closing session of the project.

Closing meeting Obernai

Organised by Gwenaël Imfeld (Laboratory of Hydrology and Geochemistry of Strasbourg (LHyGeS), Ivonne Nijenhuis and Sara Herrero (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany)

27&28 June 2014; Network meeting, Brno, Czech Republic

Almost all fellows joined the meeting and presented an overview of the state of their individual PhD projects. Detailed discussion about their research projects took place at poster sessions. The new visiting scientist, Dr. Elodie Passeport, joined the meeting and gave a presentation summarizing her research career. Her presentation focused on her experience with Compound- Specific Stable Isotope Analysis and the project she already conducted within the CSI:Environment network during her research stay at the UFZ in Leipzig (June 2014). There was also a session to help the fellows in the next steps of their careers: “General elements in Post-Doc proposals and short introduction into Marie Curie IF” taught by Annette Schmidt. On Saturday 28th there was a session about CSI:Environment administrative issues and network planning. To close the meeting there was a session for open discussion and assessment of network activities.

Network meeting Brno

Organised by Jana Klánová, Petra Ruzickova (Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX), Brno, Czech Republic), Ivonne Nijenhuis and Sara Herrero (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany)

23-28 June 2014; RECETOX 10th Summer School on Toxic Compounds in the Environment, Brno, Czech Republic

Summer SchoolThis international Summer School has been successfully organized at Masaryk University every year since 2005, with 30-50 international participants and lecturers from leading European institutions. The special topic for the 10th edition (2014) was “Linking sources and sinks of organic contaminants by compound specific isotope investigation”. The CSI:Environment fellows took part on the organization and teaching of this special session. The Summer School also integrated a session on “Ecotoxicoloy methods” taught by Pascale Chenon (RITTMO, Associated partner of CSI:Environment project).

Link to the 10th Summer School in June 2014

Organised by Jana Klánová, Petra Ruzickova, Celine Degrendele (Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX), Brno, Czech Republic) and CSI:Environment fellows 

24-28 June 2013; Course on molecular modeling, Lodz, Poland

Training course. LodzLectures and practical exercises on modelling of simple reactions of environmental pertinence were held. The course included 5 computational lab sessions each preceded by a brief explanation of theory behind the computational experiments, which included 1) model building, optimization, and properties calculations of simple molecules, 2) searching for and validation of transition state structures, 3) inclusion of solvent environment in calculations, 4) inclusion of biotic environment in calculations (QM/MM methodology), and 5) calculations of isotopic frequencies of vibrations and isotope effects.

Organised by Agnieszka Dybala and Piotr Paneth (Lodz University of Technology, Poland).

21&22 June 2013; Network meeting, Sopot, Poland

Sopot meetingAll recruited fellows and most of the supervisors attended to the meeting. The fellows presented a short overview of the state of their PhD Thesis (10 min oral presentation) and specific discussion about their research projects took place at poster sessions. On Saturday afternoon there was a session about CSI:Environment administrative issues and network planning. To close the meeting there was a session for open discussion, in which different topics were covered and a summary of decisions is included in the present document.

Organised by Agnieszka Dybala and Piotr Paneth (Lodz University of Technology, Poland), Ivonne Nijenhuis and Sara Herrero (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany)

16-19.05.2013; Reactive Transport Modeling of Isotope Signals in the Environment, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Training course. AmsterdamThe student received basic training in the interpretation and modeling of compound-specific isotope ratios (CSIA) of organic pollutants in lab studies and in the environment particularly groundwater aquifers. Theory was explained by lectures (1/3 of the time) and the student obtained practical experience by means of performing computer exercises (2/3 of the time). The student was trained to use the following software for the purpose of the course: PHREEQC, PHAST, PEST, Python, and Excel. The student was introduced to programming and application of analytical solutions and 0-3-D numerical models via predefined files. Topics included: (1) application of various Rayleigh type equations to estimate the extent of pollution (BTEX, MTBE) degradation, (2) investigation of physical effects (sorption, transverse dispersion) on isotope ratios, (3) sequential reductive dechlorination of chlorinated ethenes and associated carbon and chlorine isotope fractionation, (4) 2-D spatial modelling of isotope enrichment patterns in relation to degradation kinetics, (5) automatic calibration of models, (6) programming and making professional plots with Python.

Organised by B.M. van Breukelen (VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

15.05.2013; Consulting practices and business game on the case study of a complex groundwater contamination in Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The scope of the course was to train the fellows in the commercial application of innovative monitoring methods (e.g., compound-specific stabile isotope analysis – CSIA) for assessing sources and sinks of pollutants in the environment.
In the morning program, Isodetect and Tauw gave an overview of their business and how they use CSIA in this. Examples of cases with application of CSIA were presented. Isodetect also illustrated how to make a newly developed, specialized analysis method into a commercial success.
Currently, the main environmental application area of CSIA is the characterization of soil and groundwater contaminations. To train the students in this working field, a realistic consulting and business game was played. After a short training on groundwater investigation, the fellows got information on a contaminated site in Amsterdam. Cooperating in small groups, they were challenged to make a conceptual site model (CSM) based on existing field data and to design an investigation plan, using both standard investigation methods and innovative monitoring tools.

Training course. Amsterdam Tauw

Organised by Anko Fischer, Heinrich Eisenmann (Isodetect GmbH, Germany) and Frank Volkering (Tauw bv, The Netherlands)

12-14.11.2012; Course on N isotope methods, Dübendorf, Switzerland

Compound-specific nitrogen isotope analysis is particularly suited to study soil- and water contaminants such pesticides, explosive residues, and pharmaceuticals because many of them exhibit reactive, N-containing functional groups. This dedicated laboratory course covered the essential features of N-CSIA: (a) the choice and development of enrichment procedures according to the contaminants physical-chemical properties, (b) dealing with contaminant mixtures, (c) developing and maintaining accurate and precise N isotope ratio analyses, and (d) interpretation of the results in terms of bond-specific kinetic isotope effects. Mechanisms of N isotope fractionation at different functional groups (aromatic nitro- and amino compounds, sec-/tert-amines, amides, triazines) were studied based on laboratory model reactors for selected degradation pathways followed by training in the systematic interpretation of molecular-scale isotope effects.

Organised by Thomas Hofstetter (Eawag, Switzerland)

07 & 08.09.2012; Mid-Term Review meeting, Leipzig, Germany

The Mid-Term Review consisted on a meeting between all the network participants with the Project Officer from the Research Executive Agency (REA) – Ms. Giuliana Donini - and an external scientific reviewer – Ms. Adrien Fonagy. The fellows presented their research projects, training curriculum and expectations. The scientists in change presented their research team and their role within the CSI:Environment project and the coordinator presented a summary of the progress of the network.(according to scientific directions, training activities, networking and management). There was also time for the advisory board to provide a scientific assessment about the implementation and overall research directions of the network. Finally there was  a meeting within the fellows and the REA and a final session with summary of the output, recommendations and suggestions from the REA representatives.


Participants of the SU course

Organised by Ivonne Nijenhuis and Sara Herrero (UFZ, Leipzig)

11.09.2012; Visit to the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), Dessau, Germany

Visit to UBASession on regulations on chemical safety and the protection of the environment:

CSI:Environment fellows visited UBA and got an insight into the environmental regulatory framework and the interaction of science and regulation.

Organized by: Dr. Michael Neumann (Scientific Officer from the Division of Chemical Safety –UBA- and member of CSI:Environment Advisory Board) and Ms. Birgitt Heinicke (UBA Visitor’s Service).


10-14.09.2012; Course on modern methods and applications for isotope analysis of light elements, Leipzig, Germany:

Training course. LeipzigThe theoretical and practical one week course included lectures covering: 1) Principles of Compound Specific Isotope analysis (CSIA), environmental applications and current challenges; 2) Instrumentation in isotope analysis (Isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS), Elemental analyser/high temperature pyrolyser (N,C, S/O,H), GC-Combustion/GC-Pyrolysis (C,N/H) and LC-IsoLink HPLC interface system (C); 3) Method validation and quality assurance (QA) in isotope analysis; 4) Isotope fractionation during microbial reactions; 5) Two-dimensional (2D)-CSIA for assessing sources and sinks of organic pollutants.  Laboratory exercises covered practical work with different instruments (EA-IRMS, GC-C-IRMS, GC-P-IRMS), applications (for forensic and fractionation analysis) and QA protocols. Finally, laboratory case studies for calculation and interpretation of the main isotopic parameters (isotopic fractionation (ε), 2D analysis and isotope balance) and field case studies with real case forensic applications and assessment of biodegradation of organic contaminants at polluted aquifers were analysed and presented by the participants.

Organised by Ivonne Nijenhuis and Sara Herrero (UFZ, Leipzig).

07-11.05.2012; Course on halogen- and radiocarbon isotopes in geochemistry, Stockholm, Sweden

A five days course was offered, including lectures and practical training targeting methods for off-line/on-line Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA) and radiocarbon applications for identification of origin and fate of organic chemicals. All sixteen fellows recruited within the project attended the course. The course covered determination of chlorine isotopic composition using bench-top GC single-quadrupole MS, and measurement of the bromine isotope composition using GC multicollector ICP-MS. Furthermore, isolation of pure compounds from complex matrices using preparative capillary GC was covered in the context of off-line radiocarbon analysis and chlorine isotope analysis. The practical work revolved around principles, precision and accuracy of mass spectrometer parameters as well as handling of samples, preparation strategies and method development.

Participants of the SU course

 Organised by Henry Holmstrand and Örjan Gustafsson (Stockholm University, Sweden) 

 20-22.02.2012; Course on analytical methods (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain

Participants of the CSIC course

All recruited fellows attended to the course. The four days course consisted on eight lectures and two practical courses. Standard and specialized analytical methods were covered: handling and preparation of environmental samples; application of gas and liquid chromatographic (GC and LC) techniques for the separation of emerging organic pollutants; fundamentals of mass spectrometric (MS) analysis for qualitative and quantitative determination of emerging pollutants in environmental samples; introduction to bioanalytical techniques for the extraction and detection of emerging pollutants in environment; principles of isotope ratio mass spectrometry for characterizing and assessing in situ transformation of organic pollutants in contaminated field sites.

Organised by Sandra Pérez (Spanish National Research Council-CSIC, Barcelona Spain).

15-17.02.2012; Course on ISO-QA assuring the quality of isotopic data used for environmental applications (JRC), Barcelona, Spain

Participants JRC course

Environmental isotopic data are generated and then used to make important decisions, such as possible environmental remediation or better environmental management plans after identification of the source of contamination. Poor quality data obviously will lead to bad decisions. During the one week course, the basics of quality assurance and quality control for isotopic measurements were addressed, covering areas such as traceability and use of reference materials, validation of the methods used and participation to inter laboratory comparisons, estimating measurement uncertainty, and what constitutes appropriate internal quality control. For the various isotopic techniques used today, the major sources of measurement bias were explained. There was also a session on sampling and how to ensure the quality of sampling plans. The course consisted of invited lectures, combined with working groups that are given practical assignments, discussed in group sessions. All recruited fellows attended to the course.

Organized by: Benny Geypens and Philip Taylor (Joint Researc Center-JRC, Geel, Belgium)

13-14.02.2012; Network meeting, Barcelona, Spain

Participants of the Network meeting, Barcelona

With 29 participants the meeting was a success. All recruited CSI:Environment fellows attended and each one gave a presentation with the description and objectives of their research projects, the results achieved so far and the next steps and cooperations planned. After the session there was time for the fellows and co-supervisors to meet for discussion of projects and for planning and scheduling of future visits and internships.Two members of the advisory board (Dr. Michael Neumann and Prof. Max Häggblom) attended to the meeting and we had a very fruitful session of recommendations and suggestions about implementation and overall research directions of the project. A presentation with the general instructions for the mid-term review was held and there was a final session for general discussion, administrative subjects and further planning (next meeting, training events, miscellaneous …).

Organised by Sandra Pérez (Spanish National Research Council-CSIC, Barcelona Spain), Ivonne Nijenhuis and Sara Herrero (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany).

19.08.2011-20.08.2011; Start up network meeting, Prague, Czech Republic

Participants of the Start up meeting

The Start up meeting was a sucess with almost all CSI:Environment members present. It was opened with welcoming and introductory lectures and followed by fellow project-presentations. Presentations by advisory board, visiting scientists and associatted partners also took place. Finally there was a session for planning of future events, organisation and administration issues and work package meetings.

Organised by Ivonne Nijenhuis and Sara Herrero (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany).

07.11.2010-10.11.2010; Kick off meeting, Strasbourg, France

Participants of the kick off meeting

The first meeting of all partners, associated partners and visiting scientists started with an introduction to Administration, Organization, and Financial Issues, and with a presentation about the expectations of the Research Executive Agency (REA) by the Project Officer from the European Commission Giuliana Donini. It continued with presentations of partner institutions and their PhD projects, introduction of associated partners and their training offers, and introduction of Visiting Scientists. Following this, we planned the recruitment strategy for Early Stage Researchers (ESR), there was a discussion within training areas (objectives, definition of model components, field sites, isotope analytical time…) and further planning of future meetings and training events. Finally, some of the partners joined a field site visit to the facilities of the associate partner RITTMO-Environment, at the Biopole of Colmar (Alsace) and to prototype of stormwater wetlands, collecting pesticide runoff from a vineyard catchment, and Alsacian vineyards (Rouffach, Alsace).

Organised by Gwenaël Imfeld (CNRS, Laboratory of Hydrology and Geochemistry of Strasbourg).


June 21-26, 2015 (Jerusalem, Israel) 


Portrait of Dr.Thomas Hofstetter "Compound-specific isotope analysis is a powerful way of identifying degradation pathways of organic molecules"

CSI:Environment fellows share their experience
at Horizon 2020 (European Commission)


Marie Curie actions