Please tell us about your work

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported on soil research being conducted by Corianne Tatariw and Kaizad Patel, University of Maine students who are pursuing doctoral degrees in ecology and environmental science. Tatariw and Patel are researching how seasonal climatic changes from winter to spring affect soil nutrient cycling and therefore the biology, chemistry and physical characteristics of the woods. This winter, the students shoveled four plots of land in the University Forest in Old Town every time it snowed, according to the report. “So we basically removed a thermal barrier,” Tatariw said, adding the idea was to keep the areas clear to compare how soil was impacted by snow. The researchers found ground temperature with snow maintains a constant temperature of around freezing, the article states, and without it, ground temperatures would swing drastically. “And as a result you’re going to lose the root biomass, you’re going to lose the microbial population, and that would affect nutrient availability as well,” Patel said.

What year and semester did you begin EES graduate studies?
Fall 2013

What degree are you pursuing?
Ph. D.

Who is your academic advisor?
Dr. Ivan Fernandez

What prior degrees do you have?

Bachelor of Pharmacy, University of Mumbai
Master of Environmental Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Why did you choose to attend grad school at UMaine? Why did you choose EES?

The UMaine EES-forest soils graduate program gives me the opportunity to work on a multi-decadal research project at the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine. Given the distinct seasonality of Maine’s climate, this is also a good place to study snow-soil linkages.

Briefly describe the research project you are working on.

I am studying forest soil biogeochemistry, particularly nitrogen dynamics, in response to environmental drivers. My primary focus is subniveal (below the snow) soil processes and the impacts of climate change on these processes during the vernal transition (winter to spring). Current projects include:
1. Effect of snow removal and a decreased snowpack on soil processes (Dwight B. Demeritt Forest, University of Maine)
2. Effect of snowpack dynamics and the vernal transition on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics (Bear Brook Watershed in Maine)
3. Seasonality of soil nitrogen dynamics in the third decade of experimental nitrogen enrichment (Bear Brook Watershed in Maine)

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students?

Begin a graduate program only if you are really passionate about your field. Also, be prepared for late nights and lots of coffee.

Are you interested in mentoring undergraduates?