A C-DEBI research exchange was awarded for travel to the International Geobiology Summer Course hosted by California Institute of Technology (in conjuction with the Agouron Institute, Simons Foundation and USC Wrigley Institute). This course offered many unique opportunities including extensive field sampling, lab work, and data analyses. Field sampling occurred at Mono Lake, Little Hot Creek, the Monterey Formation, and Sulfur Mountain. Laboratory procedures included DNA extraction and PCR, CARD-FISH, microeukaryote culturing, nanoSIMS, beamline, SEM, biomarker, isotopes, and petrography analyses. We found that there was potential for microbial communities to be active at low levels in Mono Lake sediments. We also concluded that there were detrital input of albite and orthoclase into Mono sediments that correlated with El Niño and La Niña events. These data were analyzed and presented for the participants, directors, and course administrators on the final day. This experience not only provided me with technical training, but also allowed me to build an extensive network of colleagues in the field of geobiology. This course was relevant to C-DEBI Research Themes 2 (Activities, Communities, and Ecosystems) and 3 (Metabolism, Survival, and Adaptation) because we connected microbial community structure and potential function to geochemical measurements.