Derek J.  Detweiler

Ph.D. Student

Email: [[djdetweiler]]
Phone: (804) 684-7314
Office: Andrews Hall 323
Department: Biological Sciences
Co-advisors: {{,Iris C. Anderson}}, {{,Elizabeth A. Canuel}}
Research Interests: organic geochemistry; wetland biogeochemistry; molecular biomarkers; sources, composition, and fate of dissolved organic matter; climate and human impacts on carbon cycling
Twitter: {{,@derek_detweiler}}
Curriculum Vitae: {{,PDF updated June 2020}}

B.S.  University of North Carolina Wilmington, 2016

M.S. University of North Carolina Wilmington, 2018

Background and Current Work

My past research experiences have taken me from barrier islands and saltwater marshes in North Carolina to cypress swamps and mangrove forests in the Florida Everglades. I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the role of estuaries, wetlands, and coastal environments as critical ecosystem service providers through the study of their biogeochemistry. Much of my research has involved using lipid biomarkers and stable isotopes to trace sources of carbon to estuarine systems impacted by agriculture, urban development, and altered hydrology. These techniques help determine the quantity and quality of organic matter that contributes to primary productivity, to resource availability for primary consumers, and to overall ecosystem functionality.

My current work focuses on the spatial and temporal differences in the composition and short-term fate of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in tidal marsh soils in the context of environmental disturbance. This research is important because tidal marshes are among the world’s most valuable natural resources in terms of their ecologic and economic value. Tidal marshes provide a natural buffer to storms, erosion, and excess carbon and nutrient loadings to streams, rivers, estuaries, and the coastal ocean. They also play a critical role in the carbon cycle, sequestering excess carbon from the atmosphere and exporting carbon that supports primary and secondary production in the adjacent estuaries. Yet, the drivers and composition of this carbon remain poorly constrained. Insight into the mechanisms that regulate the composition and fate of DOC is therefore critical for developing reliable carbon budgets and models that are needed to predict how the coastal carbon cycle and ecosystem services will respond to climate change.