Heather Madsen ’24



Project Title

Hydroponic Investigation of Isotopic Fractionation in Arabidopsis

Presentation Link

View Heather's Presentation

Certificate(s): Archaeology

I aimed to determine the role of nutrient availability in the selective incorporation of nutrient isotopes into the corpus of Arabidopsis plants. Metal fractionation is a trophic trend that allows researchers to use isotopic composition to place different species in their respective niches within ecological systems past and present. This provides an advanced understanding of ecological interconnectivity that deepens our understanding of past trophic relationships, underscoring the evolution of specific niches over time. This has not only profound geological implications but also offers insight into conservation potential. Trophic cascades are one of the major side effects of resource depletion, and the identification of these cascades would be aided by advancements in scientific research on isotopic fractionation up the trophic pyramid. The trends observed in the Arabidopsis I grew will ultimately provide a baseline of autotrophic fractionation to demonstrate the significance of the selective physiological uptake of calcium, magnesium, and potassium isotopes. My initial research functioned to isolate and address unforeseen issues to streamline future growth, but repetition of this experimental model will undoubtedly be required to provide optimal results. I plan to continue this research for independent work this fall.

Internship Year


Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation


Higgins Lab, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey


John Higgins, Associate Professor of Geosciences; Mason Scher, Ph.D. candidate, Geosciences