Louison Sall, ’21, East Asian Studies

Certificate(s): Humanistic Studies

The goal of the experiment I worked on was to find a relationship between metabolism and isotopes. Geochemists are very interested in how carbon affects the environment. Because carbon is present in water, air, rocks, methane, coral and biomass, a lot of work has gone into how the environment impacts carbon isotopes. The biomass c3 and c4 plants are very well studied, but there isn’t much research into heterotrophs, the organisms on the forest floor that break down detritus. If you change the environment, often the bioprocesses in the organisms will change and be reflected in isotopes. If you keep the environment exactly the same, but only change the food, the isotopes also will change. From this experiment I learned how to use a range of instruments, including the elemental analysis isotope ratio mass spectrometer, a centrifuge, and the MARS 6 microwave digestion system. I also learned that research takes diligence and commitment, both of which I will take with me into the rest of my studies.