OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University junior Sara Summers recently received the outstanding geosciences student poster award at the annual meeting of Sigma Xi Research Society in Washington, D.C.
Summers was honored for her research, "Atomic Force Microscopy Arctic Study of Calcite Surfaces," which she presented at the conference. The research studies how global warming is changing the dynamics of arctic geochemical and microbial processes.
"Sara has been particularly good at working with lots of data and processing it in a relatively short amount of time," said geosciences professor Marek Matyjasik. "This is an impressive award for an undergraduate."
The project required Summers and other WSU researchers from the physics and geosciences disciplines to collaborate with research centers in Poland. Summers worked closely with Matyjasik, physics professor Colin Inglefield and other students.
The research team looked at calcite samples buried for a year, three years and six years in the glaciers of Spitsbergen Island, located off the coast of Norway. The samples were positioned varying distances from the center of the glacier and then checked for weathering. "Not a lot of research in this area has been done outside of the lab," Summers said. "This is kind of a different view of retreating glaciers."
The data revealed changes in the carbon cycle as the glacier retreated. "This study gives us a better understanding of what is happening on our planet," Matyjasik said. "It gives us a long-term view of weathering in that region."
Matyjasik said that the researchers collected twice as much data as they presented, so there is still plenty to do. Next, he plans to look at how microbes are affecting reactions on the glacier's surface.
The research team received funding assistance from WSU's H. Raymond Bingham Collaboration and Research Fund, the Beishline Fellowship and the Office of Undergraduate Research.
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