New Group Member: Dr. Kira Homola

This fall, Dr. Kira Homola joins our group for two years to work with us on our NSF-funded methane seep project. Kira received the prestigious NSF postdoctoral research fellowship. In her project, she will assess how much of the carbon captured when rocks form at deep ocean methane seeps is released back into the water column over time due to biomediated corrosion.

Born in Hawaii, Kira grew up in the Salish Sea of Washington state where she fell in love with the ocean and natural world. In 2013, she completed two bachelors of science degrees from the University of Washington (UW), one in mechanical engineering and one in oceanography with a minor in climate science. During her three years at UW, she was able to spend four months at sea on oceanographic expeditions. She continued her studies at the University of Rhode Island with the lab groups of Dr. Art Spivack and Dr. Rebecca Robinson. In 2020, she completed her PhD in Oceanography on the fate of atmospheric carbon in ancient oceans and the temperature and pressure limits of microbial life using techniques including porewater geochemistry and thermodynamic modeling.

Welcome to UCLA, Kira!

A Summer of Fieldwork (aka “I know what you did last summer…”)

This summer our group conducted three different fieldwork activities. We had a lot of fun in the outdoors and collected tons of samples and data that will keep us busy for the next months.

Fieldwork Activity 1: Santa Barbara Basin with the R/V Shearwater

End of July, our group –in collaboration with the group of Dr. David Valentine (UCSB)– went out with the NOAA-operated vessel R/V Shearwater to the Santa Barbara Basin. We deployed a CTD and our miniaturized multicorer to collect data and samples from one of our deepest low-oxygen stations. The main focus of this NSF-funded project is to study the seasonality of sulfur bacteria mats in the Santa Barbara Basin and the underlying biogeochemical processes.

Fieldwork Activity 2: Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve

In early August our group visited the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, which is a UC reserve operated by UCSB, to study methane emission dynamics and collect sediment with a special hand corer. This NSF-funded project studies cryptic methane cycling in the salt marsh sediments, which is the relation between methanogenesis and anaerobic oxidation of methane.

Fieldwork Activity 3: Green Lake, Upstate New York

As part of the NASA ICAR project, and in collaboration with the group of Timothy Lyons (UCR), our group studied microbial processes in the water column and sediment of Green Lake in Upstate New York mid August. The lake is meromictic with a sharp chemocline around 18-20 m water depth. The conditions in the lake are reminiscent of biogeochemical processes in early-Earth oceans and we are interested in understanding the interplay between different microbial processes (mainly sulfate reduction, methanogenesis, and methane oxidation) and geochemistry. Samples were collected from row boats and a Pontoon boat. We had great support and collaborations with the Green Lake Educational Center, Dr. Christopher Junium from Syracuse University, and Dr. Michael McCormick from Hamilton College.

DeMarcus Robinson receives 2023 Knauss Fellowship

Congrats to De’Marcus Robinson on receiving the 2023 Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship! The Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. 

De’Marcus’s will join 86 finalists to be placed in federal government offices in Washington, D.C. beginning February 2023.

Here is the link to the finalists.

Dr. Sebastian Krause

Congratulations to Sebastian Krause for defending his thesis today! Big Day 🙂 We will miss you! All the best for your new postdoc adventure at UCSB with my dear colleague Dave Valentine!

New Group Member: Emily Klonicki

This Fall, Emily Klonicki is joining our group as a new graduate student in the Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Department.

Emily joins us from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she was a planetary Protection and Systems engineer and participated in different missions including the Planetary Protection for Europa Clipper and Europa Lander and the Science Definition Team for the Europa Lander mission concept.

Emily will be working in our NSF Collaborative Research Grant: “Redefining the footprint of deep ocean methane seepage for benthic ecosystems“ and in the NASA project “Alternative Earths – How to Build and Sustain a Detectable Biosphere“. You can learn more about Emily on her personal page.

Welcome to UCLA, Emily!

Finished successful RV Atlantis expedition in the Santa Barbara Basin

From October 29 through November 11 part of my group (including Sebastian Krause, DeMarcus Robinson, David Yousavich, myself), was onboard the RV Atlantis (AT42-19 Expedition) together with a team from UCSB (lead by chief scientist Dave Valentine) and a team from the MPI Bremen/AWI (Frank Wenzhoefer and Felix Janssen). Our goal was to study the seasonal dynamics of giant sulfur bacteria mats in the low- to no-oxygen zone of the Santa Barbara Basin and their coupling to sulfur, nitrogen, and other element cycling. We deployed benthic chambers and microprofilers and collected sediment pushcores with the ROV Jason. We further used the AUV Sentry to map 3D oxygen distribution and other parameters in the water column and to produce a photo mosaic of the mat distribution at the seafloor. We also deployed several casts of CTD/Rosettes and collected a gravity corer. More information about our NSF-funded research can be found here. This was the first of two planned expeditions. We are very grateful for all the support we received on board the Atlantis. The three science teams worked hard and with joy to achieve our project goals.

Science Team (UCSB, UCLA, MPI Bremen/AWI) with Santa Catalina in the Background (during our return to San Diego).
Halloween on board: Team UC Zissou honors Jaques Cousteau.
Team UCLA and MPI Bremen arriving back in San Diego. From left to right: DeMarcus Robinson (UCLA), David Yousavich (UCLA), Frank Wenzhoefer (MPI Bremen/AWI), Tina Treude (UCLA), Sebastian Krause (UCLA), Felix Janssen (MPI Bremen/AWI).
ROV Jason Deployment
Elevator deployment (with benthic chambers).
ROV Jason Control Room.
AUV Sentry deployment.
AUV Sentry deployment.
In-situ profiling of sulfur bacteria mat with a microprofiler (MPI Bremen/AWI).
Benthic Chamber (MPI Bremen/AWI) deployment.
Collecting water samples from syringes of Benthic Chambers after their incubation at the seafloor.
Sediment pushcore sampling of sulfur bacteria mat with the ROV Jason arm.
Collecting sulfur bacteria from sediments.
Slicing sediment pushcores in the cold room…brrrr….
Porewater processing in the Geochem Lab.
Water sampling from CTD/Rosette.
Gravity core sampling.
Some curious visitors.

Field Work in the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve

Early July our group headed out on a trip to Santa Barbara to conduct field work in the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve. The fieldwork was supported by our newly funded NSF grant “Deciphering the cryptic cycling of methane in sediments of a coastal wetland“. Sampling was ….very muddy…. and a lot of fun. We collected a good set of sediment cores from different stations along the salinity gradient from almost freshwater to hypersaline. Back in the lab at UCLA we will study the close relationship between methylotrophic methanogens and anaerobic methanotrophs.

Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve
Team “Mud” from left to right: David Yousavich (graduate student), Sebastian Krause (project graduate student), Tina Treude (project PI), Demarcus Robinson (graduate student), Xin (Helen) Huang (project undergraduate student).
Preparing for the mud.
Sampling at the marine site.
A native says “Hello”.