B.S., Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 2012
Sources, Fates, and Composition of Carbon Pools at the Marsh-Estuarine Interface
I am currently working on a research project that monitors organic and inorganic carbon fluxes in a marsh-estuarine environment near Williamsburg, Virginia. This project involves collection of samples to analyze carbon pools (i.e., dissolved organic carbon, dissolved inorganic carbon, particulate organic carbon, etc.) and samples to characterize these carbon pools using a variety of biomarkers. The biomarker analyses include: extraction of lipids from particulate organic matter, determing stable isotopic signatures of particulate organic matter, and fluorescence measurements of dissolved organic matter. These samples have been collected monthly since October 2013. Additional samples are collected during storm events, including Winter Storm Cato (November 2014).
Research ExperienceUndergraduate Research Assistant, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Interned under Dr. Paul Falkowski and Dr. Linda Godfrey studying stable isotopes in sediment cores to determine changes in paleoceanographic climate.National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU)
Worked under Dr. Ruth Carmichael analyzing Crassostrea virginica samples exposed to the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 using stable isotopes. (See publication)
Carmichael, R. H., A. Jones, H. Patterson, W. Walton, A. Perez-Huerta, E. Overton, M. Dailey, K. Willett. Assimilation of oil-derived elements by oysters due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46: 12787-12795.
Growing up on a plant nursery, I have always had a fascination for understanding the environment around me. This fascination turned towards the coastal environment after a family vacation to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where I discovered my love for marine science. As an undergraduate at Rutgers University, I was encouraged to pursue a degree in marine chemistry. Through chemistry, I found unique ways of looking at oceanic processes and questions. While at Rutgers, I worked with geochemists to understand differences in the chemistry and biology of the ocean surface and how they related to atmospheric conditions. Additionally, I had the opportunity to intern at Dauphin Island Sea Lab. While there, I analyzed the chemistry of oyster shells to determine if these oysters had ingested any oil from the 2011 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
My current research focuses on the interactions of carbon in Taskinas Creek, a marsh along the York River estuary near Williamsburg, VA. My project aims to measure the movement of carbon pools at the interface where marsh and river meet and understand the sources of carbon that are exchanged there. Every month, I take water samples from Taskinas Creek and analyze them for organic and inorganic carbon. These samples allow me to quantify the amount of carbon moving through this ecosystem. Additionally, my project uses different biomarkers to describe the sources of carbon. A biomarker is a molecule that is specific to an organism or group of organisms, and can be identified as being exclusively from that source. For example, lignin is a molecule produced solely by woody plants. If a sample contains lignin, then it is assumed that woody plants influenced that sample.
As a student, I have had many great mentors who have pushed me to succeed. I was attracted to the GK-12 program because I can now serve as a mentor, too. I want to encourage students to do well in their science classes and find the same excitement for research that I have. I also hope to use this opportunity to better my scientific communication skills. As a scientist, it is important to be able to communicate your research not just to other scientists, but to wider audiences, too. GK-12 will help me share my research outside the academic community.
I will be working at York High School for the spring semester 2016. My goal is to motivate students to find their passion in their education. I hope to encourage students to excel in their classes and to become more inquisitive of the environments around them. Through this experience, I hope to learn from the students as much as they learn from me.
Outreach and Social Media
Research Twitter : @Taskinas_Carbon https://twitter.com/taskinas_carbon
Research Blog: Certified Organic Carbon http://organiccarbon.blogs.wm.edu/
I am interested in studying the ocean using geochemical tracers. In the past I have studied the ancient oceans using stable isotopes in sediment cores and the effects of oil spills on oysters using the stable isotopes in their shells. Currently, my projects use a variety of biomarkers, including stable isotopes, lipids, and fluorescence of CDOM.