Entomology graduate student Allison Zahorec has received $138,000 for three years to learn more about how soil microarthropod communities found in various bioenergy crop systems influence microbial and plant functions that help soils retain carbon. The fellowship program identifies and supports outstanding graduate students working to achieve research-based graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education.
Zahorec and her mentor, Michigan State University distinguished professor Doug Landis, are researchers with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), a U.S. Department of Energy project including MSU with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More than 400 scientists, students and staff collaborate in this interdisciplinary effort to develop and support more sustainable systems to produce efficient bioenergy fuels.
“Soil communities and their function have been considered ecological black boxes. We have an idea of what is going in and coming out from them, but a poor understanding of how they work,” said Zahorec.
With advances in stable isotope tracing and other techniques, we can investigate how carbon and nitrogen move through soil food webs and identify the potential biotic factors influencing whether these key nutrients are stored or lost from soils. This information will help in forming more sustainable bioenergy cropping systems.”
Read more about Zahorec and her work in “Studying Microarthropods” from MSUToday.