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I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2017 with an MSci (Hons) in Earth Sciences. In my Masters research, supervised by Dr Bart van Dongen, I used Py-GC-MS and GC-MS to characterise the macromolecular and lipid biomarker composition of permafrost organic matter from North-East Siberia. The aim of this was to investigate the link between the climatic conditions present during formation and the susceptibility of the organic matter to microbial greenhouse gas conversion under thaw. During this time, I also undertook a research project at the OGU under the supervision of Dr David Naafs and Professor Rich Pancost, working on extending the novel peat-based brGDGT temperature and pH calibration to high-latitude sub-polar environments.
I returned to the OGU for my PhD in 2017. This combined genomic and lipidomic project is funded by NERC, and is supervised by Professor Pancost, Dr Naafs (School of Chemistry, University of Bristol), Professor Alexandre Anesio (Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol), and Dr Angela Gallego-Sala (University of Exeter). In addition, I am co-funded by Elementar UK as part of a CASE partnership, with the aim of further developing and testing novel high temperature gas chromatography – isotope ratio mass spectrometry techniques pioneered by Dr Sabine Lengger here in the OGU.
Wetlands cover around 6 % of the Earth’s surface, are one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, and are a source of fresh water to half the global population. In addition, they play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle and by extension the global climate system, as they can be a significant source of the potent greenhouse gas methane. However, the underlying microbiology and molecular-level biogeochemical processes operating in wetlands are still poorly understood. The aim of this project is to combine investigations of a diverse suite of microbial lipid biomarkers and their stable isotopic composition with genomic approaches, allowing us to understand these processes in modern systems, and to develop tools for their investigation in ancient wetlands. The project involves fieldwork to Indonesia to sample pristine tropical wetlands and the results of this multidisciplinary project will provide crucial insights into the biogeochemistry and microbiology of tropical wetlands. This is crucial for our understanding of these vulnerable systems and their response to global climate warming.