Alpenglow lighting up the Brooks Range at ~2:00 am, Toolik Field Station, Alaska.
Broadly speaking, I study processes occurring in the Critical Zone, which extends from the top of the vegetation canopy down to the groundwater and includes soils, surface waters like streams and lakes, and ecosystems. The Critical Zone is where we as humans live and work, raise our food, and extract and process most of our resources. Of course, many processes that occur in the Critical Zone, such as agriculture, processing of mined materials, or anthropogenic emissions of CO2, affect other parts of the Earth System such as groundwater, the oceans, or the atmosphere.
I study Critical Zone processes from the perspective of a geologist/geochemist wherein I always have the earth's 4.5 billion year history and long future as a backdrop to my research. In particular, I use geochemical tools to understand a variety of processes including:
During my Ph.D with Sue Brantley and Jenn Macalady in the Department of Geosciences at Penn State, I primarily studied soil chemistry, mineral weathering, and ecosystem development in granitic soils located across California.
For my postdoctoral work with Andrew Jacobson in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University, I investigated what role tectonic uplift, erosion, and climate (particularly glaciated versus nonglaciated watersheds) play in controlling Ca and Mg isotope signals in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. This work is driven by several questions: