Dr. Claudia Boot
My research takes place at the interface of chemistry and biology with the aim of linking organic matter structure with ecosystem function. Organic matter in natural systems can be described along a continuum of structural complexity from primary metabolites to large molecular weight heterogeneous molecules. Microbial processing of organic matter in natural systems drives global biogeochemical cycling. A major challenge for integrating microbial processing and shifts in biogeochemical cycling due to global change, is accurately describing the chemical complexity of the natural organic matter pool. To address this challenge I use a suite of advanced analytical tools including single compound analysis, high resolution mass spectrometry-based metabolomics, optical and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. By applying these techniques, I have evaluated shifts in microbial physiology in response to environmental stressors such as drought and freeze/thaw cycles, and developed new theories linking microbial processing and biogeochemical cycling. I have conducted this work in diverse ecosystems, from seasonally dry grasslands to Arctic tundra.