Research

I am a Ph.D. candidate in geochemistry in the University of Michigan’s Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. My research focuses on how terrestrial nutrient cycling,  life, and the atmosphere have co-evolved through geologic time. I am particularly interested in studying iron and phosphorus – two essential nutrients – and how changes in their cycles may have impacted productivity through time. Additionally, I study controls in nutrients in modern soils, and how modern soils can be used as analogues for early terrestrial systems.

Continental Environments Research Group (CERG)
Advisor: Nathan Sheldon
Lab instagram

Current projects
Iron in terrestrial systems, modern and ancient
I am working to constrain the concentrations and types of iron minerals in soils under varying climatic regimes, using a novel combination of chemical extractions and analytical techniques (AGU 2016). I am characterizing a large suite of modern soils’ iron content and exploring relationships between soil iron content and climatic/environmental variables. I am also interested in terrestrial iron and its ties to the oxygenation of the atmosphere and the evolution of terrestrial life. Finally, I am interested in iron cycling in deserts and am working with biological soil crusts to address this topic.
Field sites: Utah; Wyoming; Iceland; really, anywhere with soils, modern or fossil!

Terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions
In addition to iron-specific work, I am interested in terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions for periods of rapid climate change. In 2017, I visited India to sample paleosols formed at the edge of the Deccan Traps before, during, and after the end-Cretaceous extinction event, for the purpose of paleoclimate reconstruction (GSA, October 2017; Dzombak et al., in prep.)
I am also working on the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO), a period of abrupt warming around 56 Ma, as recorded in floodplains in Wyoming.
Field sites: Wyoming (EECO), India (K-Pg)

SE Michigan wetlands soil chemistry
In addition to my own research, I am working with an undergraduate research assistant to determine seasonal changes in nutrient cycling in wetland soils in Michigan; this work is part of the University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and was sparked by field trips led as part of the Soils & Surface Processes class taught with my adviser in Fall 2017.

(UROP 2016 project: Reconstructing vegetation in Wyoming at the EECO using carbon isotopes.)