Jana Suriano, 2017, Geosciences
This summer I performed research on the characteristics of and interactions between organic matter (OM) and minerals in soil systems, with the long-term aim of understanding how OM is cycled and stabilized. With the need for comprehensive and accurate modeling of climate change, a proper representation of our largest carbon reservoir, the soil, is of extreme importance. The project investigates this from both the field and the lab. We collected soil cores as well as dissolved OM that we reacted with model minerals to observe what types of OM forms associations with the mineral surfaces. I worked primarily with an infrared spectrometer particularly suited to probing the microscopic surface assemblages, but we hope that this research will be continued using diverse methods of analytical chemistry. While I won’t be continuing this research myself for my independent work, the experience has given me respect for the complexities inherent in the field, the difficulty of paradigm shifts in scientific understanding, and the effort required to improve macro-scale climate models that rely on micro-scale environmental processes.