Asmeret receives an NSF CAREER Award

Asmeret receives NSF’s most prestigious award for early career scientists for work dealing with “CAREER:Persistence of soil organic matter in dynamic landscapes: interactive effects of fire and erosion

Fire, erosion, and soil carbon (C) storage and persistence overlap in space and time. However, we currently lack complete understanding on how and why the interaction of fire and erosional distribution of soil materials control persistence of bulk soil organic matter (SOM) and pyrogenic C (PyC, also referred to as black carbon) in dynamic landscapes. This work will use molecular- and nano-scale techniques to determine how SOM persistence varies along multiple spatial (plot, hillslope, and watersheds) and temporal scales (seasonal, annual, and decadal). The outcome of this project will be better integration of biogeochemical and geomorphological approaches to derive improved representation of mechanisms that regulate SOM persistence in dynamic landscapes that routinely experience more than one perturbation.

This CAREER project will develop improved understanding on the dynamics of bulk SOM and PyC in fire-adapted upland ecosystems and enable teaching of graduate and undergraduate students, and K-12 teachers. The findings from this project will transform the way we (a) account for changes in C storage in fire-prone systems, and (b) model response of fire-prone upland ecosystems to changes in climate and/or management practices. Moreover, in this project, I will: (1) teach undergraduate students and high school teachers about the critical zone, and develop and publish lesson plans for high-school level earth system science; (2) provide scientific training for a graduate student and a postdoc; and (3) learn advanced techniques that I will apply in my research and teaching.

UC Merced article: NSF Early Career Award Honors Professor’s Research and Potential


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