Last beamtime for the postdoc years

Last week I had my final beamtime for my postdoc work at the APS at Argonne Nat'l Labs. It was a really fun one with Liz Roepke & Josh Torgeson joining from Cara Santelli's group at U of MN. We got some beautiful XAFS spectra from 12-BM and as I start processing & comparing the data I'm getting more & more excited about this research (as if I weren't excited about it already). 

In other news, summer if flying by WAY too quickly. So much to do & so little time! At the same time, though, I can't wait to move to Lexington -- for a lot of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that I've convinced the family we need to get goats. To be honest, it didn't take much convincing. This blog may become overrun with goat pictures once we get them, and for that I apologize (sorry not sorry) in advance.

 Sunset at the APS (apologies for the blurry upper right hand corner -- my phone case is annoying)

Sunset at the APS (apologies for the blurry upper right hand corner -- my phone case is annoying)

 New signage on the sidewalk at the APS. Applies to life in general. It may or may not be my new computer background...

New signage on the sidewalk at the APS. Applies to life in general. It may or may not be my new computer background...

 Post-all-nighter trike ride at beamtime! More effective than coffee, but not as delicious.

Post-all-nighter trike ride at beamtime! More effective than coffee, but not as delicious.

New Position in 2017!

I am really excited to be sharing the news that I will be starting as an Assistant Professor in Geology at Washington & Lee University this coming fall (2017). I cannot wait to start teaching again and get my lab up and running! The W&L community is an incredible one and I am beyond thrilled to be joining it. 

All PhD work is officially published!

So big news... all the papers from my PhD are now out. The last one, looking at Ni & Zn binding to abiotic manganese oxides when reacted with Mn(II), just came out in ES&T. I loved the research involved in this paper -- a lot of beamtime, a lot of syntheses, a lot of samples (a LOT of conical centrifuge tubes -- 263 samples, each one requiring 3 test tubes for experiment, filtrate, dilution = 789 test tubes), a lot of fun times in the lab, and a lot of coffee. Now that is done, I get to really focus on my little fungi & the structures of manganese oxides they end up making!

Hinkle M.A.G., Becker K.G., Catalano J.G. “Impact of Mn(II)-Manganese oxide reactions on Ni and Zn speciation.” Environmental Science & Technology 51(6), 3187-3196. [link]

DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b04347

A day in PA at a Coal Mine Drainage Remediation Site

I had a really grand time up in PA doing some field work and collecting samples at a coal mine drainage remediation site. The site has several active Mn remediation beds, comprised of dolomite/limestone lined trenches. A lot of microbial life here, with algal mats abounding in most of the beds. Since it was a day trip, we only had a couple hours available at the site, so we disbanded to be as efficient as possible. Won't say much more, because lots of data left to process, except to say it was really neat to see Mn remediation in action! Also, I'd forgotten how good Pringles and powdered mini doughnuts are on road trips... 

Beamtime = super fun time

Last week I had a really great beamtime at the APS with Flo Ling. We collected Mn K-edge XAFS spectra on natural Mn oxides for Flo's work and some fungal Mn oxides. For the mycogenic Mn oxides we were testing to see if we could collect the spectra in transmission mode instead of relying on fluorescence-yield measurements. We've had some issues with self absorption in the past, so we were really hoping we could get transmission to work on these fungal samples-- and we did! Success! This was my first beamtime where I was actually able to fiddle with the samples -- all of my previous beamtimes involved experiments with anoxic samples that were heat sealed in bags. With these anoxic samples, I always had to rely on calculations for absorption lengths and estimates of packing densities, hoping it would work out, or bringing multiple samples with different loadings for each experiment. With this beamtime, it took a bit too much time to fiddle with the samples to get things just right (these samples are fungi + Mn oxides, so not as homogenous as I would like), but in the end we worked it out. Hooray data! And congratulations to Flo, who passed her PhD defense just a couple days after we got back from beamtime!

 Set up inside the hutch for collecting fluorescence-yield Mn K-edge XAFS spectra! 

Set up inside the hutch for collecting fluorescence-yield Mn K-edge XAFS spectra!