Amy Marcarelli Receives NSF CAREER Award
In the world of aquatic biology, it’s a long-held belief that what goes up, must come down. As human activity causes nitrogen loads to go up along the banks of rivers and streams, nitrogen levels go down through another process. Amy Marcarelli, a Michigan Technological University associate professor in biological sciences, has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study this nitrogen conversion balance.
The CAREER awards are prestigious grants from the NSF to young faculty who effectively integrate research and teaching. Marcarelli was awarded a 5-year, $794,661 grant to continue her research into nitrogen fixation and denitrification.
Not only will her research look to affirm, or disprove, long-held beliefs, but also to create a more ecologically-savvy citizenry by integrating ecosystem ecology techniques into K-12 and undergraduate education.
The construction and operation of a mobile lab is a key part of both the research and educational components of the CAREER project. Marcarelli says accurate rates of nitrogen fixation and denitrification using common assays are dependent on accurate estimates of gas concentrations.
“To reach local (K-12) students, I will identify several classes where teachers are interested in introducing their students to field-based ecology. Before our departure, we will visit these students in their classrooms to introduce ourselves and our project,” Marcarelli says.
She plans to work with Joan Chadde, educational program coordinator at Michigan Tech’s Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science Mathematics and Environmental Education.