Our research group studies environmental processes at the molecular-level and we also explore how this information can be used for the sustainability of ecosystem and environmental health. Our laboratory is equipped with several cutting-edge analytical tools which we use to address pressing questions related to the environment.
The majority of soil and sedimentary organic matter has not been chemically characterized at the molecular-level. The lack of understanding of soil organic matter structure makes it difficult to study how climate change and other human-induced processes will alter organic matter dynamics and functions in various ecosystems. We are developing and using advanced analytical tools to monitor organic matter composition and biogeochemistry with various aspects of environmental change. This includes the analysis of specific organic matter compounds, which can be used to trace the fate of organic matter and assess its degree of oxidation, and solution-state and solid-state NMR spectroscopy (see Simpson & Simpson, 2012 for more information about the methods we use).
We are currently focusing on Forested, Agricultural and Arctic ecosystems as these are highly sensitive to environmental change. We are collaborating with researchers at various Long-Term Ecological Research Sites to study how soil warming and nitrogen fertilization alter soil organic matter composition. Another area of interest is how variation in detrital inputs alters soil organic matter composition (DIRT Network). We are also studying soil, sedimentary and dissolved organic matter biogeochemistry at the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory in the Canadian High Arctic. We are also involved in the new NSERC-funded Climate-Smart Soils CREATE which is the first soil-centered program to address the need for highly qualified personnel training in Canada’s agri-food sector.