Dual Bachelors of Science in Environmental Soil Science and Agriculture & Natural Resources - May 2012 - University of Delaware -Summa Cum Laude
Tidal marshes are one of the most valuable ecosystems in the world. They supply a variety of widely recognized economic benefits such as water purification, nutrient processing, and wildlife habitat. Marshes also provide two especially unique services that are critical to the focus of my research: contaminant sequestration and sea level rise mitigation. The goal of my research is to understand how wetland plants sequester heavy metals in root plaques, the impact of increased salinization on the stability of these sorbed contaminants, and how morphological differences in native and nonnative wetland plants impact contaminant stability with respect to sea level rise.
The coast of Delaware is experiencing one of the highest rates of sea level rise in the world due to land subsidence and rising global seas. The relative stability of soil accumulation rates over the last several centuries has allowed tidal marshes in this industrialized area to bury toxins and thus keep them relatively inert. However, continued sea level rise could lead to marsh collapse, which may release sequestered pollutants and remobilize contaminants into estuarine systems.
The native and densely rooted Spartina alterniflora is being compared to invasive exotic and thick rooted Phragmites australis. Potential contaminant mobility is being determined with micro-X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (μ-XAS), μ-XRD, and Inductively Coupled Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS). The roots of these plants may play a critical role in capturing heavy metals released by influxes of seawater through direct absorption into root tissue or by sorption of the metals to iron plaques formed around the roots. The findings of these studies will elucidate how the shift in plant communities from native Spartina to nonnative Phragmites will impact a marsh ecosystem’s ability to sequester heavy metal contaminants during storm surge events and with increasing sea level rise.
Sparks, D.L., B. Lafferty, M. Ginder-Vogel, G. Landrot, M. Zhu, J. Fischel and M. Fischel.2014. Multiscale Assessment of the Kinetics and Mechanisms of Metal(loid) Oxidation at the Mn-oxide/water Interface. 247th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition, Dallas, Texas, March 16-20.
Fischel, M.H., B.J. Lafferty, J.S. Fischel, M. Zhu, M. Ginder-Vogel, and D.L. Sparks. 2011. Kinetics of Arsenite Oxidation by Manganese Oxide Minerals: Importance for Environmental Sustainability. University of Delaware Undergraduate Research Symposium, Newark DE.
Fischel, M.H., B.J. Lafferty, J.S. Fischel, M. Zhu, M. Ginder-Vogel, and D.L. Sparks. 2011. Kinetics of Arsenite Oxidation by Manganese Oxide Minerals. NSF EPSCoR Annual Meeting, Newark DE.
Fischel, M.H., B.J. Lafferty, J.S. Fischel, M. Zhu, M. Ginder-Vogel, and D.L. Sparks. 2010. Kinetics of Arsenite Oxidation by Manganese Oxide Miner<>als. University of Delaware Undergraduate Research Symposium, Newark DE.
Scholarships and Awards
University of Delaware
2011-Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainability Prize
2010-Residential Life Environmental Hero
2009-Panel of Scholars award for the highest current GPA
National Federationof Garden Clubs
2011-National Garden Club Scholarships
2011-Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs Scholarship