AGI Awards Diversity Grants to Geoscientists Studying Deep Carbon

These grants fund travel to national and international conferences, DCO-related workshops, conferences, and events, lab or fieldwork to advance DCO-aligned research, or instrumentation time at DCO-affiliated facilities. 

In 2015, the Deep Carbon Observatory partnered with the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) to engage and actively recruit geoscientists from traditionally underrepresented groups in the United States. Earlier this year, AGI put out a call for eligible geoscientists to apply for grants to facilitate a variety of activities and become more engaged with DCO. These grants fund travel to national and international conferences, DCO-related workshops, conferences, and events, lab or fieldwork to advance DCO-aligned research, or instrumentation time at DCO-affiliated facilities. 

The latest recipients of these DCO Diversity Grants are Daniel Colman (Postdoctoral Researcher at Montana State University), Rosa Zayas (Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Delaware), Omar Harvey (Assistant Professor at Texas Christian University), and Pedro Marenco (Associate Professor at Bryn Mawr College).

Additionally, AGI awarded travel grants to Pablo Garcia Del Real (Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University), Moyo Ajayi (Master of Science candidate at Vanderbilt University), John Paul Balmonte (Ph.D. Candidate at the University of North Carolina), and Heidi Needham (Master of Science candidate at the University of Hawai'i), to attend DCO-related field experiences including the 2016 DCO Summer School

Meet the award recipients:

Daniel Colman, Postdoctoral Researcher, Montana State University

"The deep hot subsurface biosphere represents an area of particular intrigue for individuals interested in the origin and evolution of life, the extent of subsurface biogeochemical cycling, and the possibility of subsurface life on other planets. In [my] work, geochemical signatures of deep-subsurface sourced and near-surface sourced fluids will be coupled with microbial community analyses from the same springs to test for the presence, extent and nature of a Yellowstone National Park subsurface biosphere. In particular, differences in carbon cycling metabolisms (and other physiological characteristics) from subsurface-typical and surface-typical spring microbial populations will be tested to provide insight into differences between subsurface and surface microbial adaptations."

Rosa Zayas, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Delaware

"[My] main research interest involves understanding the dynamics of microbial communities composition and functional characteristics in oceanic extreme environments, particularly continental margins and deep oceanic trenches. Using various "omics" techniques [I] look at the genetic material of individual microorganisms in the environment (genomics) or all microorganisms in a given environment (metagenomics) to infer the metabolic processes that microorganisms are capable of performing. Currently, [I] work with samples collected from the Tonga Trench, water column and sediments, at ~9100m water column depth, and Costa Rica margin sediments down to 93 m below the seafloor."

Omar Harvey, Assistant Professor, Texas Christian University

"My research group combines microbiological, thermodynamic, spectroscopic and isotopic techniques to understand organic-inorganic and abiotic-biotic interactions in geologic systems. We are particularly interested in geochemical outcomes of archaea-mineral interactions in H2-limited versus H2-rich conditions, how energy and mass transfer differ in these systems, and broader implications for biogeochemical cycles/cycling in CO2-enriched environments."

Pedro Marenco, Associate Professor, Bryn Mawr College

"I use geochemical approaches to investigate environmental changes associated with major paleobiologic events such as mass extinctions and biodiversification events.  In particular, I have focused on the oxygenation of the oceans as a factor in these events.  Seawater oxygen is tied not only to biodiversity, but it is also an important factor in the accumulation of carbon on the seafloor, which is a major reservoir for carbon on Earth."

Pablo Garcia Del Real, PhD Candidate, Stanford University

"My research focuses on determining the parameters that govern magnesium carbonate mineralization and serpentinization in a variety of geologic environments. These processes, which evidence dynamic transformations of oceanic crust lithologies, can help us understand geochemical pathways and carbon fluxes in weathering, hydrothermal and mineral ore systems, and provide constraints on CO2 sequestration in ultramafic rocks."

Moyo Ajayi, MS Candidate, Vanderbilt University

“My research investigates the exchange of greenhouse gases at the soil-atmosphere interface. Currently, I am examining methane emissions in locations where high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) methods are being implemented in eastern Tennessee. I plan to determine the quantity and the location of methane emissions, and connect those findings with isotopic analysis to find the source of those emissions. The primary objective is to understand the strength of the connection between HVHF activity and the increasing concentration greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

John Paul Balmonte, PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

“I investigate the carbon processing capabilities and community composition/diversity of surface and subsurface water and benthic microbes using geochemical and genomic approaches. This information will help us understand how the climate-induced acceleration in glacial melting and subsequent increase in carbon export could change the structure and function of microbial communities in fjords.”

Heidi Needham, MS Candidate, University of Hawaii

"As an early career geoscientist living in one of the most volcanically active places on Earth, I am keenly interested in gaining a comprehensive understanding of atmospheric changes from volcanic outgassing and the effect these changes have on climate from both a research and resource management point-of-view. My research involves running the MT-CLIM model to provide data where there are gaps throughout the state, including the active volcanic regions which are often affected by volcanic fog (vog)."


Meet all the DCO AGI DIversity Grant recipients here

Further reading
Enhancing Deep Carbon Science: Integrating Diverse Perspectives into Our Community

All photos courtesy of AGI.

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