Carbon is the backbone of life and the primary focus of research in our lab. Due to the structural diversity of carbon containing molecules, we can link specific compounds back to the given processes that formed them, even after tens of thousands years. Since molecules carry an isotopic tag, radiocarbon (14C) content can be used to tell time and track the flow of carbon through complex systems. Most materials and reservoirs contain a complex mixture of molecules with different sources, ages, and fates. Therefore, just as mixing yellow and blue yields green, bulk analyses of a sample contains molecules with different 14C signatures and yields a single average isotopic value. Research in the Z-lab focuses on using the isotopic composition of specific compounds within a complex mixture to study the origin and fate of organic matter on land and in the ocean.
Currently, research in the Z-lab focuses on:
And in the future we may revisit:
Our home is in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment and the Marine Science Program at The University of South Carolina.
We train scientists who are comfortable getting dirty the field, keeping it clean in the lab while following their passions.
In the Z-lab we believe that teaching makes us better communicators and therefore researchers.