Aparna Raghu, 2018, Undeclared
This summer I conducted research on how carbon compounds in Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM) interact with mineral surfaces. By understanding the chemical nature of mineral- DOM precipitates and comparing them to similar precipitates formed by photochemical reactions of DOM, we hope to understand how this precipitate formation allows for retention of carbon in natural systems. I began my research by conducting a literature review to learn more about the functional group chemistry of mineral-organic interactions. My team and I then collected DOM from the Pine Barrens and used infrared spectroscopy to characterize the DOM and DOM-mineral precipitates. By the end of the summer, we were able to interpret the data and begin making conclusions about mineral-DOM interactions. Thus, not only did I gain experience with sample and data collection, I was also able to see how scientific research is conducted from hypothesis formulation to data interpretation. I had the opportunity to discuss everything with my lab group from the experimental setup to future experimentation, allowing me to experience the collaborative nature of research, and making me excited to continue with both the project at hand and with research in the future, regardless of what academic concentration I choose to pursue.