Kim Givler - Biogeochemistry Lab

University of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, Arizona

Microbial Responses to the Forecasted Future Environment

I recently graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in chemistry. I arrived at SERC in September to try my hand at environmental research in the Biogeochemistry lab, the newest lab on site. This lab maintains several fields of study relating to environmental responses to elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is taken in by plants through photosynthesis and through a series of reactions is fixed in the soil as labile organic carbon. Microbial processes then reduce this carbon to methane (CH4), also a significant greenhouse gas, which is released from the soil back to the atmosphere. However, there is competition between these methane-producing microbes (methanogens) and microbes that reduce Fe(III) to Fe(II), and SO4 to H2S. Understanding these three processes and how they affect one-another will help us further gauge future environmental responses as CO2 levels rise.

My internship has been spent developing methods to study the microbial processes of carbon, iron, and sulfate reduction, with the ultimate goal being to study all three simultaneously in wetland systems. For my internship project, I am examining how these processes change along a salinity gradient. However, I was unable to refine the methods and complete the experiments for my project in the 16 weeks allowed for my internship. In order to complete my project and ensure that the lab would be well prepared to run further such experiments, I was hired on as a technician and will remain working here through the spring.

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