In recognition of the global nature of Critical Zone (CZ) science, the National Science Foundation has provided funding to the CZ Observatory (CZO) Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) project to enable travel to CZO sites or pre-eminent laboratories overseas to further the investigation of the Critical Zone. A major goal of the SAVI is to develop international collaborations, including young scientists who will advance CZ science throughout their careers.
In 2015, SAVI funds were awarded to three international scholars to conduct CZ science abroad. Awards were also given to seven U.S.CZO graduate students to attend the inaugural Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Soil Science and Climate Change summer school at the University of Western Australia (UWA).
Our 2015 International Scholars are Madelyn Percy (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Reggie Walters and Adam Wymore (University of New Hampshire). Each scholar proposed interdisciplinary CZ research with an international aspect and were able to travel to the Galapagos Islands, Australia and the Czech Republic respectively. Read more about each of our scholars and their research below.
Madelyn Percy is a PhD student and member of the Royster Society of Fellows at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she works with Dr. Larry Benninger in the Department of Geological Sciences. A native Texan, Madelyn attended the University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate degree in anthropology and geology, and taught high school science for five years before matriculating at UNC. Outside of school, Madelyn is an avid reader, a halfway decent dancer, and a very poor runner, and is in constant pursuit of making the perfect tortilla (both corn and flour).
Madelyn traveled to San Cristóbal island in the Galápagos archipelago, trying to understand factors that affect pedogenesis (soil formation) on a tropical island basalt. She has surveyed four sites at different elevations across the island, which correspond to different microclimatic zones, seeking to describe the distribution of topsoil moisture using the electrical conductivity of the soil. She has also sampled the soil at different depths via augering and the excavation of soil pits for chemical analysis. While in the Galápagos, her team noted that the distribution of soil moisture was likely dependent on numerous factors, including the overlying plant type, the mineralogy and texture of the soils, the slope position, and the depth to a clay layer that acts as a low-permeability layer. Ultimately, Madelyn hopes to use her data and compare it to other tropical and oceanic islands made of basalt to understand how the parent material and climate in which a soil forms might affect pedogenesis.
Reggie Walters is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and received a B.S. in Environmental Physical Science from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD and a M.S. in Hydrologic Science from Boise State University in Boise, ID. He has recently migrated from academia to a career in water resources at the Idaho Power Company, a hydroelectric company in Idaho.
Reggie traveled to the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia where he was able to meet with international CZO collaborators Dr. Talitha Santini and Dr. Joshua Larsen, both professors in the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management. This collaboration came about when Dr. Santini and Dr. Larsen met Reggie’s advisor, Dr. Alejandro Flores, during the CZO All-Hands Meeting in Fall of 2015. He visited each of the labs of each of these professors, as well as to many of the other facilities at the wonderful University of Queensland campus. Reggie’s research involves soil carbon dynamics of the Reynold’s Creek CZO and he had set out to perform simulation modeling and data analysis to compare and contrast soil carbon storage and fate in the vastly different environment of Australia. Reggie also became a part of Dr. Larsen's project involving global soil respiration rate analysis and the sensitivity of this parameter to global climate change. Reggie was able to analyze soils data from not only Idaho or Australia, but from all over the world, to get a more encompassing look at the importance of carbon stored in the ground. Reggie will continue to collaborate with Dr. Larsen and Dr. Santini in this ongoing project.
Adam Wymore is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of New Hampshire and is associated with the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory. Adam is an aquatic biogeochemist and his research focuses on the cycling of dissolved organic matter and nutrients (e.g. nitrogen) in streams.
Adam was able to visit the Slavkov Forest CZO in the Czech Republic twice to perform experimental field work. The over-arching objective of this research is to examine the effects of experimental nitrate (NO3-) additions on concentrations of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and specifically dissolved organic nitrogen (DON). Adam uses the natural gradients provided by the Luquillo CZO and the Slavkov Forest CZO (i.e. lithology, vegetation, climate, dissolved organic carbon concentration) to better understand the role of DON as an energy or nutrient source within global ecosystems. Results indicate that in aseasonal tropical streams (i.e. Luquillo) DON primarily serves as an energy source likely due to low concentrations of dissolved organic carbon associated with these streams. In contrast, DON appears to serve as both an energy source and nutrient source in the Czech streams due to seasonal changes within the dissolved organic matter pool. Collectively these results, in addition to other experiments (e.g. New England; Wymore et al. 2015), indicate that DON is a highly bioreactive form of dissolved organic matter and its role within ecosystems can vary across Critical Zone gradients, seasons, and biomes.
Seven U.S. CZ science graduate students received funding to attend the inaugural Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Soil Science and Climate Change summer school at the University of Western Australia (UWA). The summer school ran from January 29 til February 13, 2015 and included 3 days at UWA, a four-day “Critical Zone Soil Science and Climate Change” workshop and retreat at the UWA Future Farm, and a five-day facilitated writing retreat at the Albany campus of UWA.
The following students were awarded funds:
Maya Almarazy (Brown University)
Melissa Foster (UC-Boulder)
Alice Hill (UC-Boulder)
David Huber (Idaho State)
Elizabeth King (Oregon State)
Rebecca Lybrand (University of Arizona)
Kyungjin Min (University of Kansas)
For more info:
WUN Summer School at UWA: