Current Research in EEPS: Dr. Peyton Smith, Texas A&M University
The multi-omics of organic matter – Linking molecules with microbes to measure soil carbon capture
Microorganisms are the prevailing agents of change when it comes to determining the fate of carbon (C) and nutrients in soils. However, linking microbial structure, function and activity to whole soil ecosystem processes is often confounded by complex geochemical, hydrological, and physical interactions occurring in the soil matrix. This is especially relevant for understanding the C source and sink potential of soils in response to global change. Soils are the largest terrestrial sink of C holding 2-3 times more C than the atmosphere or the C contained in plant biomass. This talk will explore how land use and climate change alters soil C dynamics through the lens of microbial communities, organic matter composition, and soil matrix structure. Coupling microbial properties with ultra-high resolution molecular profiling that can identify environmental metabolomics and other molecular formulae contained within organic matter, I will highlight the importance of soil architecture in determining microbial activity and organic matter transformations, and thus, the ability of soils to capture C in a changing world.
Dr. Peyton Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Department at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on physical, chemical, and biological mechanisms of soil organic matter transformations and soil carbon stabilization in both managed and natural ecosystems. Dr. Smith received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, an M.Sc. from Yale University, and a B.S. form University of Washington. Prior to joining A&M, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.