My research examines the effects of anthropogenic disturbance and ecosystem variability on the biogeochemistry of nitrogen and carbon. Humans have significantly altered elemental cycles worldwide through energy and food production activities (e.g. doubling the amount of reactive nitrogen produced annually), leading to an increase in quality of life but also several unintended consequences (e.g. estuarine eutrophication).
By utilizing concepts and methods from the fields of biogeochemistry and ecosystem science my research aims to understand the complex biogeochemistry of human impacted watersheds, specifically how terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems process carbon and nitrogen constituents. In order to understand the ecosystem today and predict how it will respond to future perturbations, I believe it is important to conduct research in a collaborative, multi-scale, and interdisciplinary way; to acknowledge that in order to understand the ecological impacts of global change we need to examine not only ecosystem drivers such as changes in temperature and hydrologic cycling but also policy decisions and cultural perceptions of the environment.
I use techniques from geochemistry (e.g. stable and radioisotopes, characterization of organic matter) and ecosystem ecology (laboratory and field experiments, ecosystem modeling) to explore how drivers of global change (e.g. nitrogen deposition, land use change, and warming) affect the processing and flux of nitrogen and carbon to rivers and ultimately to estuarine and coastal environments.
I am particularly interested in understanding how urbanization impacts both the input and processing of carbon and nitrogen within terrestrial, freshwater and near shore environments. Currently I am a Postdoctoral Associate at Rutger's Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences, using local estuaries (Murderkill Estuary in Delaware and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey) as a natural laboratory to examine coupled biogeochemical cycles (C, N, P and S) in the context of a developing landscape. In addition, I am fortunate enough to work with a number of different researchers at the USGS, University of Colorado, Rice, and Yale; these collaborations enable me to work on a variety of projects ranging from warming in the alpine to urbanization in tropical and subtropical watersheds.