The Isotope Biogeochemistry Group at SMAST, led by Dr. Mark A. Altabet, specializes in study of marine biogeochemical processes using high-precision measurements of stable isotopic ratio as well as dissolved gas composition as natural tracers. A major area of interest is the marine nitrogen cycle, as it operates in the present and the past in relationship to climate change. State of the art instrumentation and techniques are used to measure the stable isotopic composition of NO3-, NO2-, NH4+, N2O, DON, and particulate nitrogen as well as the ratios of dissolved N2, O2, and Ar gases. Recent projects have focused on the low oxygen region off Peru, the rocky coast of NW Washington State, Long Island Sound, the Sargasso Sea, and the Yellow Sea.
Mark A. Altabet
Dr. Mark Altabet, Dr. Annie Bourbonnais, Haibei Hu and Anne Cruz are on board the R/V New Horizon for 5 weeks, sampling in the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) of the Eastern Tropical North Pacific. Here they will be working with Dr. Craig McNeil of the University of Washington who is testing a newly developed Gas Tension Device (GTD) to measure N2 levels in OMZ's. Dr. Altabet's group will be collecting water samples to make precise measurements of the O2, N2, and Ar dissolved gases in those same waters. Measurements will be made both on the boat in real time using the quadrupole mass spectrometer (shown in picture) and back at the SMAST lab on our Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer. These lab measurements will be compared to the GTD sensors to calibrate and assess their performance.
Undergraduate Summer Internship: Marine Nitrogen Cycling
A Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summer internship is available in the Altabet Biogeochemistry Lab at SMAST. Duration is 12 weeks, starting in June with the start date flexible to accommodate the intern's academic commitments. The internship is funded as part of an NSF funded project on paleoceanography in the Peruvian margin, focussing on the application of stable isotopes. The summer the intern will conduct an individual research project that is relevant to the larger project goals. Additionally, the intern will contribute to the on-going research efforts of the Altabet Biogeochemistry Lab and, with training and guidance, will process samples and analyse data. At the end of the summer, s/he will be required to write a report in the format of a scientific paper and give a short presentation.
We invite applications from qualified, highly motivated undergraduate students with interests in marine science. Prior completion of a college level introductory chemistry course is essential and an oceanography course is desirable but not required. A stipend of $5000 will be provided to cover living expenses.
Interested applicants should send a statement of interest, resume, unofficial transcript, one letter of recommendation and contact information for one additional reference. The statement of interest should be less than 500 words and include current academic interests, research experience and how this position would help s/he achieve their career goals. Send application materials, preferably as a single Microsoft Word or PDF file to Jennifer Larkum (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters of recommendation should be emailed directly to Jennifer Larkum from the student's professional references (please include applicants name in subject line of email). Questions and queries can also be directed to Ms. Larkum. Applications will be accepted through 30th April 2014.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, accompanied by Chancellor Divina Grossman, State Representative Christopher Markey and others toured SMAST in August. Senator Warren met with members of the Lab, and left SMAST with an appreciation of our research and SMAST's important role within the UMass system.
Mass Spec Service Center
Jennifer Larkum (Lab Manager)
Ms. Larkum graduated from Virginia Institute of Marine Science with a M.S. in chemical oceanography. She has over ten years of experience in research along the continuum of streams, rivers, marshes, and oceans, and has been a member of the Isotope Biogeochemistry Group since 2009.
Annie Bourbonnais (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Dr. Bourbonnais is currently involved in several research projects looking to better understanding the role of mesoscale eddies in the nitrogen cycling (particularly fixed nitrogen loss), in oxygen minimum zones, off the coasts of Peru and Mexico using stable isotope techniques. Eddies have recently been identified as an important nitrogen loss hotspot off the coasts of Peru (see Altabet et al., Biogeosciences, 2012). During her Ph.D. and M.Sc. projects (advisors: Kim Juniper, University of Victoria, Canada and Moritz Lehmann, University of Basel, Switzerland), she investigated nitrogen loss processes in hydrothermal vent systems of the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the northeast Pacific Ocean and nitrogen fixation in the oligotrophic subtropical northeast Atlantic Ocean. In her spare time, she enjoys taking care of her daughter Mollie-Éloïse, being on the water (sailing!), travelling and rock climbing. For an updated list of her most recent publications please visit her ResearchGate web page: www.researchgate.net/profile/Annie_Bourbonnais/.
Haibei Hu (Graduate Student)
Ms. Hu did her undergraduate work at Dalian Ocean University in China. She is currently working on her Master's degree in Dr. Altabet's lab. Her thesis is focused on nitrogen fluxes in sediments and their fluent in the shallow water column. She is currently honing her lab and instrumentation skills, and has been involved with a research project looking at nitrogen cycling in the coastal waters off Peru. In her free time she enjoys reading and traveling — "You can either travel or read, but either your body or soul must be on the way."