Today I am very excited – five of my awesome undergraduate students will be presenting their theses work. I couldn’t be prouder of what they have accomplished.
Delaney Tight built a biogeochemical reaction model of nitrogen cycling in aquifers of tidal freshwater zones. Here, water is completely fresh but diurnal tides persist. Delaney used her model to understand the necessary conditions and dominant reactions (denitrification, nitrification, aerobic respiration) that lead to the observed nitrate heterogeneity in the near stream aquifer.
Emily Cain spent the summer in the forests of the eastern Sierra and worked with the US Forest Service to collect the health of pines within a thinning experiment. Over one thousand trees later, Emily had an interesting spatiotemporal dataset to explore factors that explain the spread of bark beetles within the thinned and unthinned portions of the forest.
Asheton Gilbertson has spent the last two years working with me to understand the effects of fire on soil carbon. For her thesis, Asheton collected intact soil cores and soil samples from multiple burned (2002) and unburned hillslopes and conducted rainfall experiments. Her work illustrates that the burned montane landscape is retaining just 4% of the soil carbon as the nearby Ponderosa Pine forests!
Fiona Cerf spent the summer working with colleagues in Providence measuring the isotopic composition of nitrate in ice, water, and snow samples from alpine watersheds in the Front Range. To complement the geochemical measurements, Fiona examined how sources of atmospheric N to Niwot Ridge have changed over the last 30+ years using the long term data from the NADP and the Niwot LTER.
Alice Oline spent last summer working with researchers from the University of Texas examining the role of timing in the effectiveness of prescribed burns as a means to reduce non-native grasses (in particular Bothriochloa ischaemum or King Ranch Bluestem) and increasing presence and diversity of native grasses. Alice results point to late summer burns as the most effective at increasing native grass abundance and diversity.