Elizabeth Shoenfelt holds a W. O. Crosby Postdoctoral Fellowship in MIT's EAPS. Her research interests include global-scale interactions between minerals, biology, and the atmosphere – namely how mineral nutrients (like iron) move from bedrock to influence growth of photosynthetic organisms that modulate atmospheric CO2 and climate on geologic timescales. Dr. Shoenfelt’s research often focuses on dust, as it is a major source of terrestrial nutrients to the open ocean, and her previous work has found that the mineral composition of natural dust changes on glacial-interglacial timescales, impacting its ability to fertilize iron-limited phytoplankton and influence climate. She is also interested in how the formation of biominerals in the ocean impacts the biosphere and the global climate cycle, since these minerals can accelerate the export of carbon to the deep ocean. To answer questions related to these big-picture topics, she uses analytical chemistry (including synchrotron-based methods to study metal speciation), marine sediment cores, and laboratory cultures to study interactions at the mineral-phytoplankton interface and to reconstruct the speciation of solid-phase iron that reaches the ocean over time. Her work is also relevant to understanding various mechanisms represented in global biogeochemical models.
Dr. Shoenfelt received her undergraduate degree from the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. She recently completed her PhD in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Lamont Climate Center.
A list of publications and research updates can be found at her website: elizabethshoenfelt.com.