1. Author info: Professor Jerry Schnoor is the Allen S. Henry Chair in Engineering and the Co-Director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa. Jerry is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (elected in 1999) for his research using mathematical models in science policy decisions. He chaired the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ORD Board of Scientific Counselors, 2000-2004, and is a member of EPA’s Science Advisory Board and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences (NAEHS) Council. Schnoor is considered one of the founding fathers of phytoremediation, using plants to help clean the environment. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of the leading international environmental journal, Environmental Science and Technology, and his other research interests include water quality modeling, environmental observatories, sustainability, and global change.

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  2. Abstract: The world is a dry place. Much of it is already arid or semi-arid, and drought is expected to become more frequent and intense. The effects of drought on biogeochemical processes are profound, but at times counter-intuitive. Current models assume that as soils dry, biogeochemical processes merely slow down and microbial populations decline; when soils rewet, processes just pick up again. All these assumptions are wrong. Rewetting a dry soil typically causes a huge burst of respiration, although it remains unclear where the carbon comes from—microbial C vs. C released from mineral surfaces or aggregrates. But surprisingly, when soils become extremely dry, the biomass of microorganisms in soil increases. Pools of extractable C and N increase. But, even very slight increases in moisture can switch biogeochemical patterns back to the “moist” conditions: biomass and pools of available resources decline. The causes of some of these dynamics remain obscure, but appear to result from the interactions of microbial stress physiology and the extent of hydraulic connectivity at the microscale in the soil.

    About the Author: Josh Schimel did his Ph.D. in Soil Microbiology at UC Berkeley in 1987. After postdocs in Aberdeen, Scotland, and East Lansing, Michigan, he became an assistant professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He moved to UC Santa Barbara in 1995, where he is now a professor and Chair of the Environmental Studies Program. His research focuses on soil C and N cycles in Arctic and Mediterranean ecosystems: areas dominated by a stressful environment.

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  3. Author info: Peter Kelemen is Arthur D. Storke Professor of Geochemistry at Columbia University, where he moved in 2004 after 17 years at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Hegraduated from Dartmouth College in 1980, and received hisMSc and PhD (1987) from the University of Washington in Seattle. Kelemen’sresearch focused for many years on chemical and physical processes duringreactive transport of magma in the Earth’s mantle and lower crust (“theplumbing system of volcanoes”), and how this affects the composition andstructure of oceanic, volcanic arc, and continental crust. In recent years, hehas also been studying the evolution of continental upper mantle, the role ofdensity instabilities on crustal evolution, the deeper parts of earthquakes, andreactive transport of low-temperature fluid through mantle peridotites. Inaddition to his research work, Kelemen was a founding partner of DihedralExploration, consultants specializing in “extreme terrain mineral exploration” inBC, Alaska, and Greenland from 1980-1992, and has taken part in severalmountaineering expeditions in Peru, India, and Pakistan.

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  4. Author info: John Valley is the Van Hise Professor of Geology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he established theWiscSIMS Laboratory for Stable Isotope Geochemistry. His interests include the early Earth, astrobiology, mountain belts, and paleoclimatology.

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  5. Author info: James A. Davis is a Senior Research Geochemist/Engineer at the U. S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA, directing field and laboratory research on chemical reactions at the mineral-water interface and the transport of metal contaminants and radionuclides in groundwater. His research has examined geochemical processes at multiple scales, from molecular-scale studies by X-ray absorption spectroscopy to large field-scale investigations. Other research interests include carbonate chemistry, permeable reactive barriers for groundwater remediation, spectroscopic characterization of amorphous mineral phases and contaminants at mineral surfaces, and the spatial variability of hydrologic and geochemical properties in aquifers.

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Distinguished Scientist Seminar Series

LBNL Earth Sciences Division

The ESD Distinguished Scientist Series is a monthly seminar featuring eminent individuals from various disciplines in the scientific community whose research is outstanding, interdisciplinary, and of broad interest to strategic interest initiatives in


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The ESD Distinguished Scientist Series is a monthly seminar featuring eminent individuals from various disciplines in the scientific community whose research is outstanding, interdisciplinary, and of broad interest to strategic interest initiatives in the earth sciences. Speakers normally spend a full day with researchers at Earth Sciences Division, LBNL, and the University of California, Berkeley.

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