PhD Defense by Shannon Owings

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  • Date/Time:
    • Thursday February 27, 2020 - Friday February 28, 2020
      1:00 pm - 2:59 pm
  • Location: Ford EST L1114
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Summary Sentence: Importance of Manganese oxides in carbon remineralization in river-dominated continental margins and the biogeochemical cycling of arsenic

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my PhD thesis titled "Importance of Manganese oxides in carbon remineralization in river-dominated continental margins and the biogeochemical cycling of arsenic" on February 27th at 1 pm in Ford EST L1114. My committee members include Dr. Martial Taillefert (advisor, GT EAS), Dr. Yuanzhi Tang (GT, EAS) Dr. Thomas DiChristina (GT, BIO), Dr. Frank Stewart (Montana State University), Dr. George Luther (Univ. of Delaware), and Dr. Christophe Rabouille (Univ d'Saclay, CEA, LSCE, France). My abstract is included below. 


Best regards, 

Shannon Owings


Manganese oxides (MnO2) are ubiquitous in the environment and play an important role in the transformation and transport of contaminants in the environment in addition to play a major role in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon. This study investigated both aspects of these roles using a combination of laboratory experiments and field work. First, the kinetics of oxidation of  the more toxic arsenic form, arsenite (As(III)), to the less mobile form, arsenate (As(V)), by MnO2 was determined and compared to literature data to investigate the mechanism of the reaction. Subsequently, the effect of low As(V) concentrations on the anaerobic microbial respiration of MnO2 and iron oxides, Fe(OH)3, were investigated to shed light into the mechanism of As(V) toxicity in aquatic environments. At low As(V) concentrations, microbial reduction  rates were increased compared to arsenic-free treatments suggesting As(V) at low concentrations stimulates metal reduction (MnO2, Fe(OH)3) in sediments as a result of a catalytic cycle in which arsenic is constantly reduced via microbial detoxification and re-oxidized by MnO2.  The cumulative findings from this study suggest that arsenic is not simply immobilized in sediments and that a suite of complex abiotic and microbial processes including adsorption, intracellular transport, and redox reactions may affect the transport of arsenic in the environment, and ultimately the quality of drinking water resources.

In parallel to laboratory experiments, manganese cycling, and the dominant redox pathways involved in carbon remineralization processes were characterized in marine sediments across the Louisiana shelf and slope that are exposed to mineral and terrestrial organic inputs from the Mississippi River. Although sulfate reduction dominates on the continental shelf, denitrification and microbial manganese reduction appear equally significant anaerobic respiration processes along the continental slope the closest to the Mississippi River. This study emphasizes how the differential oxidation kinetics of Mn2+ (slow) and Fe2+ (fast) as well as sediment transport processes influence the main pathways of carbon degradation in these regions. Overall this thesis emphasizes the importance of characterizing the fundamental molecular processes of complex systems to better understand  large scale global biogeochemical cycles.


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Phd Defense
  • Created By: Tatianna Richardson
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Feb 24, 2020 - 12:15pm
  • Last Updated: Feb 24, 2020 - 12:15pm