Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
I am fascinated by biogeochemical processes that control the behavior of a variety of trace metals in natural waters. My current focus is on unique organic molecules produced by marine microbes to acquire metal micronutrients, as well as on the fate of man-made organometallic compounds. Analytical techniques like inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), potentiometric titration, and UV/visible spectrophotometry are used in my laboratory to study transition metals (e.g., Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb), which are potentially harmful to human health; alkaline earths (Mg, Ca, Sr, Ba); and the more exotic rare earths and platinum group elements, which are favored as chemical probes because of their remarkably coherent properties. Examples of recent REU projects include the affinity of siderophores (molecules that bind specifically to Fe e.g., desferrioxamine B and E) for other metals; the stability of the MRI contrast agent Gd-DTPA; and properties of the Cu-binding molecule salicylaldoxime. My experimental work mostly takes place inside the laboratory, but I also apply my findings to important environmental problems such as fracking, the use of tree rings as chemical records of soil pollution, and the use of corals as chemical records of ocean temperature. Students who want to work with me should have a strong background in calculus and chemical analysis, and a particular interest in learning more about the geochemistry of the ocean.
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