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Archive for the ‘West Coast Adventures’ Category

Hello everyone,

Source: Wikipedia
(c) University of Washington

As all of our friends and family know, I’ve been working on my PhD in soil science at NC State for a while now. I’ll be finishing up in December, so I’ve been in the midst a thorough job search over the summer and the beginning of the fall semester. That job search is officially over now as I have accepted a position as a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Washington Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. I will be working with Dr. Rebecca “Becca” Neumann. I will be working on a project studying methane oxidation in the rhizosphere of wetland plants.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2. Methane is produced in wetland soils. Plants can act as both a route for methane to move from the soil into the atmosphere, and as a way for oxygen to enter the soil and oxidize the methane in the rhizosphere (the zone of soil immediately surrounding roots). The objective is to put a number on the percentage of methane that’s oxidized in order to refine climate change models. We also want to predict how that number changes with different plant communities, and how those communities might change as the climate warms. The field site is about 40 minutes west of Fairbanks, Alaska. The field site has two types of wetlands – a bog and a fen. It is called the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Station. I’ll be in Alaska for their growing season (June-September), and in Seattle the rest of the time working on laboratory experiments.

I’ve been told the UW campus is really nice. Here’s a flyover I found on YouTube. It’s looking good so far!

My start date is January 6, 2014. The current plan is for me to defend my dissertation in December. We’ll ship our stuff from Raleigh to Seattle via a U’Haul “pod”. We will drive from North Carolina to Iowa for Christmas, then drive from Iowa to Washington after the holidays. My official graduation date will be May 10, 2014, and we will be back in Raleigh for the commencement and hooding ceremony. All of our friends and family will be welcome to attend. There’s a lot to do between now and my start date in January, but in the mean time Stacy is making plans for the move, and I’m working on finishing my dissertation on time.

Stacy is starting her job search now. The company for which she currently works has two hospitals in the Seattle area. She’s looking into transferring within that company for now. I know some of her family was a little sad we weren’t moving back to within driving distance of Wallingford, Iowa. On the bright side though, this is a temporary position that is renewable, so I should be able to work in Seattle for a few years until the perfect position close to home opens up.

The position is exactly the type of postdoctoral research position I was looking for in my job search, so I’m really happy I got it. Stacy and I are both excited to see what the West Coast is like, and we now have an excuse to visit Alaska. I think my brothers are already planning big game hunting trips in Alaska, and Stacy’s siblings are already planning road trips to Seattle. I’ll try to post here a few times between now and the move, but we’re really busy so we’ll see.

Thanks for stopping by,

Colby

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