Research at Hendrix

McKenzie Keller '13

McKenzie Keller

Chemistry major from Rogers, Ark.

Undergraduate research project

The effects of heterogeneous chemistry on growth rates of marine phytoplankton in high nutrient low chlorophyll environments through input of aeolian dust

Aeolian dust is expected to be a major source of bioavailable iron (Fe) to high-nutrient low-chlorophyll (HNLC) regions of the world's oceans. However, dust transport through the atmosphere, chemical aging processes, such as uptake of gas-phase nitric acid (HNO3) from urban environments, can alter the physical and chemical properties of the mineral aerosol. Unfortunately, very little is known regarding the effect of atmospheric chemical processing on Fe bioavailability. This study aims at using phytoplankton growth rates as a biomarker for micronutrient availability upon deposition of chemically processed mineral dust aerosol to the ocean environment The principal investigator for this project is Dr. Courtney Hatch.

How did you find out about this opportunity?

I found out about the project through the annual research meeting the chemistry department puts on at the beginning of the year. I was attracted through the implications of Dr. Hatch's research on climate. All of the research in her lab helps to quantify the effect of aerosols on global temperature.

How does your project fit with your interests and your professional plans for life after Hendrix?

The project has given me a first-hand look at the life of a research scientist, a position that is fundamental to the scientific community as well as a serious career consideration for me.

What has been the most eye-opening or valuable part of your experience?

This project has taught me the importance of interdisciplinary knowledge. Every day in lab, I must apply knowledge from marine biology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and inorganic chemistry to understand the entirety of the project. All of these disciplines have something to contribute, or a perspective that supports the overall understanding of the science.