Current Research Projects

Title: Refining and testing methods for identifying and quantifying gaseous oxidized mercury in air
Duration: 2021 – 2024
PIs: Mae Gustin, Sarrah M. Dunham-Cheatham, Seth Lyman
Funding: National Science Foundation

Title: Hydrology and erosion dynamics following compost applications on annual grasslands
Duration: 2021 – 2025
PIs: Beth Newingham, Sarrah M. Dunham-Cheatham
Funding: Natural Resources Conservation Service

Other Supported Projects

“Investigating sorption and desorption behavior of mercury to microplastics in aquatic ecosystems”
Collaborators: Nicole Choma, Monica Arienzo (undergraduate research award)

Testing the low-cost technologies for monitoring atmospheric mercury at Amsterdam Island” (Ozmen Institute for Global Studies)
PIs: Olivier Magand, Aurelien Dommergue, Mae Gustin
2021 – 2022

Algae from waste waters as a sustainable protein source: Fate of heavy metals” (USDA)
PIs: Sage Hiibel, Mae Gustin
2019 – 2022

“Examining the impact of methylmercury on waterfowl population dynamics” (Hatch)
PIs: Perry Williams, Mae Gustin, Chris Nicolai
Duration: 2020 – 2023

Past Research

2019 – 2022: “Study of the biochemical mechanisms by which mercury is sequestered in plants” (Hatch)
Collaborators: Won-Gyu Choi, Mae Gustin, Jeff Harper

2017 – 2020: “Refining and testing methods for identifying and quantifying gaseous oxidized mercury in air” (NSF)
Collaborators: Mae Gustin, Seth Lyman

2016 – 2018: Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Nevada, Reno
This research focused on identifying controlling factor(s) on organic carbon-mineral associations in soil environments and characterizing and quantifying plant-soil relationships in old fields in arid shrublands undergoing restoration.
Mentors: Ben Sullivan, Elizabeth Leger, Yu Yang
Affiliations: Global Water Center

Fall 2011: Research Assistant & Site Manager, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
On this project, I coordinated and executed uranium aqueous chemistry field research at the Department of Energy Rifle, CO Integrated  Field  Research  Center. I managed  and assisted with various projects  and  collaborated  with  national  and international research teams to collect, process, compile and organize data for publication. I utilized analytical techniques (e.g. KPA, IC, UV-Vis, XAS, EM) to probe the behavior and fate of uranium, and other contaminants, as a function of redox potential in an in situ groundwater system experiencing several treatments.
Supervisor: John Bargar

2007 – 2012: Graduate Research Assistant, University of Notre Dame
My graduate research focused on biomineralization and biosorption involving bacteria. I investigated the effects of non-metabolizing bacteria on the precipitation of metal phosphates and proposed a novel mechanism of biomineralization in a uranium-phosphate system. I utilized many techniques (e.g. XRD, XAS, ICP-OES/MS, SEM, TEM, TOC) to gather geochemical and visual data. I also investigated the effects of various ligands (e.g. chloride, fulvic acid) on mercury behavior in the presence and absence of a variety of non-metabolizing bacteria (e.g. Gram+, Gram-, obligate anaerobes). Thermodynamic modeling of the batch adsorption data was conducted to generate stability constants and Kd values for the mercury-bacterium interactions.
Advisor: Jeremy Fein