Simone Moos, a postdoctoral associate in the Boyle Group, developed one of the first reliable methods to measure chromium isotope ratios in seawater, which she now employs to study the relatively unexplored marine cycling of that metal.
Simone B. Moos originally joined the Boyle Lab in 2011 as a graduate student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Chemical Oceanography. After successfully defending her thesis “The Marine Biogeochemistry of Chromium Isotopes” in September 2017, she remains in the group as a postdoc.
Moos developed one of the first methods to measure chromium (Cr) isotope ratios in seawater. A critical step to doing this is reliably preconcentrating and purifying nano-molar chromium from the seawater matrix, which is challenging and has only been achieved by two other research groups in the world.
Chromium isotope signatures in the geologic record have been used to assess past atmospheric oxygen conditions, but with very little data reported from the modern marine and terrestrial environment, the interpretation of these isotope ratios is difficult. During her PhD, Moos analyzed water column profiles from the Arctic, Central North Pacific, Eastern Tropical North Pacific oxygen-deficient zone, and the partially anoxic Santa Barbara Basin. Her data show for the first time that the reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) in oxygen-depleted seawater is accompanied by significant isotope fractionation. The lighter isotopes preferentially transform to Cr(III), which is scavenged from the water column due to its particle reactivity, resulting in heavier residual chromium.
Simone off of Greenland at 75 degrees north with R/V Polarstern in 2010
In 2015, Moos traveled from Alaska to the North Pole aboard the icebreaker USCGC Healy. This expedition was part of the international research program GEOTRACES, which studies the biogeochemical cycling of trace elements and their isotopes in the ocean. During the 10-week Arctic mission, Moos collected seawater samples for her own innovative work, the Boyle lab’s long-standing lead isotope research, and the wider US trace metal community. As many questions regarding the marine chromium cycle remain unanswered, Moos will continue analyzing chromium isotope signatures of seawater samples during her postdoc.
Story Image: Simone at the north pole during the Arctic GEOTRACES GN01 expedition in 2015 with USCGC Healy
Name: Simone B. Moos Hometown: Moos's hometown is Rüsselsheim, Hesse, Germany. She also spent a very exciting chapter of her childhood in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where her dad was the general manager of a light rail transit project. Area of Study: Chemical Oceanography Faculty Sponsor: Edward A. Boyle
Education: Moos holds a PhD from MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth and Space Sciences from Jacobs University Bremen in Germany.
Path to MIT: Moos first came to MIT in 2011 when she was accepted into the MIT/WHOI joint program as a graduate student.
Outside Interests: Moos enjoys kayaking and racquet sports like tennis and squash. She loves to travel and discover mostly untouched landscapes. Moos also loves watching thought-provoking documentaries by the likes of Errol Morris.
EAPS Postdoctoral Program
The Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT is committed to providing excellent opportunities for postdoctoral study with faculty who are widely recognized for their contributions to their fields. We offer broad exposure to all areas of the geophysical and planetary sciences, leading to work that is both rigorous and rewarding.
Postdocs are appointed after recommendation by a faculty sponsor, and the Department hosts 35-65 postdocs with active appointments in any given year. Candidates interested in postdoctoral study at EAPS are encouraged to contact the appropriate faculty member directly.