Research

 

Developing Biosensors for Earth System Science

The lab uses synthetic biology to engineer microbes that report on their behavior in soil, allowing us to approach soil science from the microbial scale. These reporters help us understand the relationship between micron-scale microbial decision-making and ecosystem-scale biogeochemical processes. Our "spies and bloggers" report on their environment and their decisionmaking, helping us understand how environmental changes alter microbial choices.

One component of this work is the artificial soils we construct as matrices to test our biosensors. Check back soon for more!


Fire, Charcoal and Biochar

We use lab techniques and chemical models to better understand how pyrogenic carbon (i.e. charcoal and biochar, products of biomass burning) affects soil properties, forest health, atmospheric chemistry, climate and air quality.  Additionally, we apply interdisciplinary approaches to investigate nitrogen cycle dynamics in biochar-amended soil and provide support for policy that incentivizes biochar as a soil amendment.

 

Soils and Soil Carbon

We use field observations and laboratory measurements to understand how land use change affects soil's carbon storage capacity to help landowners improve land management techniques.


Carbon Oxidation State/Ecosystem Oxidative Ratio

We are developing methods for using the ecosystem oxidative ratio as a tracer, much like an isotopic signature, in the Earth system.