B.S. (2006) in Environmental Sciences and Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Magna Cum Laude; Commonwealth Honors College.
Honors Thesis: Phytoremediation Potential for Crambe Plant (Crambe abyssinica) of Heavy Metal Contaminated Soil
My research interests focus on pollution in the environment. Specifically, I am interested in how pollutants are sequestered in soils, and I conduct studies on geogenic and anthropogenic nickel in the environment. Nickel and other metals in the environment are of concern to human and environmental health. Currently, my focus is on several projects that investigate the chemical forms (species) and reactions of nickel in serpentine soils and on clay minerals. Serpentine soils are a geogenic source of nickel in the environment, and nickel hyperaccumulating plants used in phytoremediation are endemic to them. Phytoremediation is a technology using plants to remediate, for example, nickel contaminated soils. In order to improve understanding of nickel uptake mechanisms employed by plants, I use synchrotron based techniques like X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) to speciate solid phase nickel in serpentine soils from the western U.S. Additionally, I conduct in situ experiments employing Quick-Scanning XAS (Q-XAS) to examine the reactions of nickel on the surfaces clay minerals. This technique will help elucidate how the chemical forms of nickel change over time (kinetics). I am also applying computational chemistry methods to understand the stability of environmentally important nickel/aluminum layered double hydroxides (LDH), which can precipitate on the surface of clay minerals in soil. Understanding metal speciation in the environment is critical in order to assess how a pollutant could pose a threat to human and environmental health.
Siebecker, M., D.L. Sparks 2010. Nickel Speciation in Serpentine Soils using Synchrotron Radiation Technique, p.160-162. In Gilkes RJ, Prakongkep N, eds. Proceedings of the 19th World Congress of Soil Science; Soil Solutions for a Changing World; Symposium 2.2.1; Biogeochemical interfaces in soils #2. Brisbane, Australia, August 1-6.
Siebecker, M., T. Centofanti, R. Chaney and D.L. Sparks. 2009. Geogenic Nickel Speciation in Serpentine Soils and Its Relationship to Nickel Uptake in Hyperaccumulator Plants. ASA-CSSA-SSSA 2009 International Annual Meeting. Pittsburgh, PA, November 1-5.
Academic Fellowships and Scholarships
2007 – present University of Delaware Fellowship