My primary interests lie in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, particularly at the crossroads of both. Currently, I am exploring the fate and burial efficiency of organic carbon within deltaic soils and sediments of the Wax Lake Delta, Louisiana. This delta is unique due to its relatively young age (subaerial since 1973) and the fact that it is building land while the majority of surrounding coastline is losing it. I’ll be initially taking measurements of the soil/sediment organic carbon pool along a soil chronosequence, which will then be fine-tuned by focusing on the individual mechanisms responsible for preserving organic carbon over longer periods of time. This is all done by using chemical biomarkers, stable and radiogenic isotopes, soil aggregate structures, and organomineral binding measurements to uncover the carbon cycling story for this embryonic delta. This project will allow for a better estimate/understanding of the carbon sequestration potential for delta restoration projects, and connect the dots between the deposition of organic carbon in young delta soils and its ability to be preserved in delta lobes over a thousand years old.
My research interests relate to how microbial processes influence wetland biogeochemical cycles. I’m particularly interested in linking “omics” tools with chemical biomarkers to better understand the microorganisms driving carbon and nutrient cycling in wetlands. My current research focuses on particulate organic matter and organic phosphorus dynamics within South Florida Stormwater Treatment Areas to minimize phosphorus loads to the Everglades. I am also investigating the fate of coastal peat when it’s exported into aquatic systems, and studying the effects of crab grazing on coastal salt marsh loss in the southeastern US.
I received my undergraduate degree from UC Davis, and my PhD from the University of Florida’s Soil and Water Sciences Department, and have studied systems ranging from coastal marshes to tropical peat domes.
My research interests revolve around using geochemistry to create high-resolution paleoclimate records. The research I will be performing will involve the use of several biomarker-based proxies, including the LDI (long-chain diol index), the mass accumulation rates of diatom and coccolithophore biomarkers, and GDGTs (glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether). My upcoming project will utilize these proxies to examine ENSO variability during the last glacial period in the tropical Pacific. This record can then be compared to North Atlantic records and ongoing modeling studies to examine the relationship of ENSO variability to abrupt climate events and to glacial climate forcings.
Jun Zhao, Ph.D., Hangzhou, China (2017-present)
Undergraduate Lab Assistants
Recent Former Lab Members