New paper in Scientific Reports!

My GFZ collaborator Laura V. Krone just published her first paper from her PhD as part of the EarthShape project. From the drilling campaign in the semi-arid study site in Santa Gracia in Chile, we found multiple weathering fronts at various depths, even reaching as deep as 76 m from the surface. The denudation rate from this site result in a slow turnover time of the entire weathering zone (~7 million years). Despite this, we show that deep weathering is still possible.

(a) Schematic core log. (b) Acoustic televiewer image of the unrolled borehole wall. (c) Core photos of (1) soil and saprolite, (2) saprolite, (3) transition zone between saprolite and saprock; (4–7) saprock, (6) fresh bedrock. Figure from Krone et al. (2021), Scientific Reports, 11, 13057.

Please read the full paper here:

EXAFS beamtime at Diamond Light Source

Some “free” time while resting from sample pellet preparation in the glovebox.

Last February 2020, I went to Diamond Light Source in UK together with Liane, Dominique and Thaïs to do Fe and As K-edge EXAFS measurements at the I-20 beamline. We were mainly looking at redox-active Fe-bearing minerals and their interactions with arsenic, phosphate and silica.

Synchrotron beamtime is always an exciting time for me because I get to shoot high energy X-rays to my (synthetic) Fe-bearing minerals. Plus, it allows me to understand the crystal structure of these minerals, and the nature of the nutrients (e.g., Si, P) and contaminants (e.g., As) immobilized on them.

The beamtime was a success, and now it’s time to analyze all those EXAFS data!

I’m now a Doctor (Dr. rer. nat.)!

I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation (Green rust formation and reactivity with arseic species) at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany last January 17, 2020 with a grade of summa cum laude (mit Auszeichnung).

The first part of my defense was a 30-min presentation of my dissertation, covering a brief introduction and the most significant findings of my projects. It went really smooth and I felt great with the pace of my presentation. After that, it was followed by the “examination” part, which consisted of 30-min of scientific questions and discussion with my doctoral examination committee. It was really nerve-racking, and some of the questions from the members of my committee really caught me by surprise. One of my examiners even asked why Mars was red instead of green! But, I’m glad I was able to answer all the questions from them. This was followed by a private deliberation of the doctoral examination committee. And then, the announcement that I had passed!

It’s part of tradition in German universities that your colleagues give you a doktorhut after passing the doctoral defense. Here’s the hat that my colleagues at the Interface Geochemistry group at GFZ made:

It was really funny that they made a paper doll of me working in a glovebox with the TEM next to it. And of course, the promo shot of the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race S9 (one of my favorite seasons of the show).

Another tradition, this time from Liane (my PhD supervisor), was to hit the cardboard from the office ceiling with the cork of the champagne bottle. Obviously, I’m not used to opening champagne bottles so I struggled a lot! Haha. And then, I had to sign the “spot” on the ceiling board with your name and signature! It was really cool though.

By the way, I’m the first PhD student from our research group to graduate since Liane moved to GFZ Potsdam. Overall, I’m PhD no. 39 (she was previously at University of Leeds from 1999).

And of course, this PhD journey would not have been possible without the help and support from the following people:

And with that, on to the next adventure as a postdoc!