Collaborative Research: REU SITE: Coal Mining Impacts on Soil Carbon Storage and Impacts in Appalachian Headwater Streams: A Research Experience for Undergraduates

Grants and Contracts Details


Through an integrated program of classroom, field, and laboratory experiences, REU participants will study biogeochemical cycles and their influence on ecosystem dynamics over time by examining carbon cycling and storage in soils and sediments in headwater watersheds. Students will examine the impacts of different surface coal mining methods on carbon budgets and erosion in forested and mined watersheds employing the emerging technique of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis Up to 24 undergraduate student and 10 teacher participants will each develop an independent research project related to carbon cycling; collect field soil or sediment samples, prepare and analyze samples on a isotope ratio mass spectrometer, interpret the data; and then present their results at an in-house conference. The intellectual merits include advancement in undergraduate education as well as scientific publications regarding: (1) advantages/disadvantages of carbon and nitrogen isotope measurements for soil organic carbon and lignite, (2) factors impacting carbon storage and turnover on mined sites, and (3) carbon flux as induced by erosion of mined lands. Broader impacts include participation (1) of underrepresented groups including students and teachers from the Eastern Kentucky Appalachian Distressed Communities, (2) benefits to society including budgeting the impact of coal energy harvesting on the environment, and (3) broader impacts for teaching and research infrastructure to the host institutions.
Effective start/end date8/15/081/31/12


  • National Science Foundation: $246,294.00


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