My M.S. research investigated the influence of human land use on soil carbon storage across a wide range of soil types and climatic variation. It is known that soil carbon represents a substantial fraction of terrestrial carbon storage, but there is considerable uncertainty in how soil carbon responds to land use change. Much of this uncertainty could be due to the confounding effects of environmental variables. To address this uncertainty, I used soil samples collected by the Natural Resource Conservation Service across the island of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The samples came from 5 different land uses and from multiple soil orders on sites with a wide precipitation gradient.
Aquatic carbon cycling in Siberia
As an undergraduate I had the opportunity to travel to northeastern Siberia as a member of the Polaris Project. My project looked at the role of benthic macroinvertebrates in aquatic carbon cycling. We classified the major invertebrate taxa found in Siberian streams and ponds and also implemented a bottle experiment to measure the effect of amphipods on the conversion rate of particulate organic matter to dissolved organic matter. We found lots of bugs and little effect of the amphipods on particulate matter transformation.
I have worked as a field assistant on two forest ecology projects. The B4Warmed project through the University of Minnesota was looking at the response of boreal and temperate tree seedlings to increased temperatures at the boreal/temperate ecotone in northern Minnesota. The other project through the University of Puerto Rico, investigated tree species distribution and population dynamics along a forest successional chronosequence. I also did an independent study project on the Andean Cock-of-the-rock in Ecuador that gave me a new appreciation for study organisms/systems that don't move or wake up at 5:30 AM.