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I study the impacts of disturbances on belowground processes, with emphasis on soil carbon cycling.

Submit an abstract to AGU Fall meeting 2023!

Are you working on an ecological disturbance theme? Thinking about fires, hurricanes, insect outbreak, ice storms, etc.? Please consider submitting an abstract to the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall meeting (San Francisco, CA, USA, 11-15 December 2023) session B049 Measuring and Modeling Disturbance and its Effects on Biogeochemical Processes.


The abstract submission deadline is August 2nd.


Organizers: Fernanda Santos, Oak Ridge National Lab, Oak Ridge, TN, United States, Christopher Michael Gough, VCU-Biology, Richmond, VA, United States, Melissa Sue Lucash, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, United States, Kalyn Dorheim, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Joint Global Change Research Institute, Richland, WA, United States and Ariel Johnson, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, United States

Interested in research experience in DOE?

For undergraduate students:

The Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) 

For community college students:

For graduate students:

Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program


I am a Geographer, an Environmental Scientist, and a Soil Scientist by training. Such interdisciplinary background has allowed me to explore different components of the Earth system. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA) I focus on the impacts of disturbances on belowground processes to improve the ability of computer models to predict our future climate.

I am generally interested in how disturbances impact:

  • transformation of organic matter in soils;

  • the mobility of carbon within the soil system;

  • the transport of organic matter from land to rivers, and how these processes are affected by environmental/ecological disturbances such as fires;

  • the way soils alter aquatic ecosystems in watersheds.


Most of my work is focused on soil - an important source of organic carbon. Soil locks up large amounts of organic carbon. Most of this carbon is derived from organic matter (e.g. leaves, twigs, and needles) that enters in the soil and undergoes numerous transformation, mobilization and transport processes. To investigate these processes, I use a combination of state-of-the-art techniques (such as spectroscopy and spectrometry) that allow me to quantify C in the environment and study individual molecules that contain carbon to understand how stable and mobile organic matter is in soil.

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