This award will be used to purchase components for the upgrade of a solid-state 300 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer (NMR) for the analysis of environmental samples at Baylor University. The NMR facility will be part of the Geology Department?s organic geochemistry laboratory. The purchase of a solid-state probe with cross-polarization and magic angle spinning will facilitate the acquisition of NMR spectra for nuclei of low abundance in geomedia (e.g. 13C and 15N)?providing information on the structure, identity, and molecular dynamics of the organic matter in modern and ancient soil and sediment. NSF funds will be used to establish an NMR summer school ? an internationally-publicized short-course intended to equip students in the Earth and environmental sciences with the technical expertise necessary to apply NMR spectroscopy to their research interests The solid-state NMR facility will support the research of Baylor faculty and students in the department of geology as well as 3 interdisciplinary initiatives: the terrestrial paleoclimate research group (7 faculty members), the institute of ecological, Earth, and environmental sciences (19 faculty members), and the center for reservoir and aquatic systems research (19 faculty members). Research areas that will immediately benefit from the access to the NMR facility include: 1) characterizing the oxidation state of global soil carbon pools and the response of ecosystem oxidative ratio to climate change, 2) assessing the impact of developing-world land use on the quality of riverine organic matter delivered to the oceans (NSF GEO OCE-funded), 3) developing ecosystem biochemical inventories as a tool for understanding soil carbon dynamics, 4) development and validation of a paleo-fire temperature proxy for studying the role of fire in the Earth system, 5) application of the paleofire temperature proxy to several NSF-EAR funded studies of Pleistocene -Holocene climate variability using paleosol records 6) calibrating the paleosol CO2 barometer for vertic paleosols by monitoring carbon cycling in modern Vertisols (NSF EAR-funded), 7) elucidating mechanisms of natural organic matter interactions with nanoscale mineral particles, and 8) investigations of the aggregate structure in melanins.

Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a powerful analytical tool capable of non-invasively extracting a host of chemical structure information from environmental samples (soil, sediment, biomass, etc). However, NMR spectroscopy remains underutilized in the geosciences because it is not a part of traditional Earth and environmental science curricula. Baylor University has recently undertaken several major initiatives to meet the society?s increasing need for scientists with interdisciplinary training in the Earth and environmental sciences with the establishment of a terrestrial paleoclimate research team, a PhD-granting institute in the ecological, Earth, and Environmental systems (TIEEES), and a center for reservoir and aquatic systems research (CRASR). We propose the establishment of a facility that would give the faculty and students participating in these programs access to solid-state NMR spectroscopy for geological, biogeochemical, and environmental studies. The solid-state NMR facility will be integrated into Baylor University?s Advanced Instrumentation Workshop, which is held annually for student and faculty from the area?s small colleges. Additionally, NSF funds will be used to establish an NMR summer school ? an internationally-publicized short-course intended to equip students in the Earth and environmental sciences with the technical expertise necessary to apply NMR spectroscopy to their research interests. The intended outcome of the proposed research is to help the geoscience community utilize an undeveloped geoanalytical capability that exists at many major research institutions.

Project Report

Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a powerful analytical tool capable of extracting chemical structure information from environmental samples (soil, sediment, plant biomass, etc). However, NMR spectroscopy remains underutilized in the geosciences because it is not a part of traditional Earth and environmental science curricula. Science faculty at Baylor University hve recently undertaken several major initiatives to meet society’s increasing need for scientists with interdisciplinary training in the Earth and environmental sciences with the establishment of a terrestrial paleoclimate research team, a PhD-granting institute in the ecological, Earth, and Environmental systems (TIEEES), and a center for reservoir and aquatic systems research (CRASR). In 2012, Baylor University established the Paul Marchand Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy facility in the Department of Geology, by repurposing an existing magnet, and purchasing a new console and sample analysis probe (7mm diameter). This NSF EAR-IF award was used to fund the installation of this equipment, purchase an additional sample analysis probe (4 mm diameter), and provide training opportunities for visiting scientists. We propose the establishment of a facility that would give the faculty and students participating in these programs access to solid-state NMR spectroscopy for geological, biogeochemical, and environmental studies. To increase the utilization of this powerful spectroscopic method, the solid-state NMR facility has been integrated into Baylor University’s Advanced Instrumentation Workshop, and summer undergraduate research experiences. These activities have provided a half-day training workshops to approximately 45 undergraduate students and their supervising faculty members from the region’s small liberal arts institutions. Solid-state NMR spectroscopy has become an integral part of 2 graduate-level geology courses taught by the PI, William Hockaday. Approximately 30 Baylor graduate students from the departments of Geology, Biology, Environmental Science, and TIEEES are using the NMR instrumentation during their coursework and/or research. Additionally, solid-state of NMR spectroscopy has become an integral part of the thesis research for 4 Baylor undergraduate students, 1 MS student, 7 PhD students, and 3 postdoctoral scholars who are being advised or co-advised by the PI, Hockaday. During the 2-year project period,3 peer-reviewed journal papers and 1 Book Chapter have been published with NMR data, 3 are in submission, and 3 are in preparation. This EAR-IF award was made as an EARLY CAREER grant to a second-year tenure-track scientist, PI, William Hockaday. The 11 Baylor University students (mentioned above) mentored or co-mentored in solid-state NMR spectroscopy have provided a substantial opportunity for Hockaday to develop cross-disciplinary projects and collaborations with colleagues at Baylor University. Additionally, this award provide the means to host visiting scientist from other universities for a week-long training and sample analysis "intensive". The week-long time frame allows for meaningful experiential learning, development of expertise, and data generation. Four visiting scientists were hosted, each for at least one week. The scientist’s home institutions include, Michigan Technical University, University of Pennsylvania, Texas A&M University, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Nanjing Forestry University (China), James Cook University (Australia), and The Perot Museum (Dallas, TX). This has provided outstanding collaboration and career-building opportunities for the visiting scientists and the PI (at Baylor University) who are all early-career scientist.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Earth Sciences (EAR)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1132124
Program Officer
Tobias Fischer
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2012-09-01
Budget End
2013-08-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$92,801
Indirect Cost
Name
Baylor University
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Waco
State
TX
Country
United States
Zip Code
76798