CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A new laboratory located in Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Natural Resources Center is taking research up a notch.
The University now has some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the field of stable isotopes in the Isotope Core Lab (ICL). In the past year, the ICL has analyzed thousands of samples in support of research conducted by TAMU-CC scientists in seven other campus labs.
Isotope analysis is important in understanding our environment. It can help determine if methane found in groundwater is contaminated from fracking or if it is naturally occurring. It can also help in assessing fish populations to track changes in migration or diet that can be signs of issues within an ecosystem.
“Stable isotopes are being used by researchers at the University to study the source and fate of hydrocarbons in the environment, groundwater contaminants, food web dynamics and past climate fluctuations,” said Dr. Paula Rose, Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences.
With its isotope ratio mass spectrometer and an array of instruments, the laboratory is able to determine the stable isotopic compositions of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen in a variety of sample types.
“The students and researchers at A&M-Corpus Christi are now benefitting from access to a state-of-the-art facility where they can prepare and analyze biological, environmental and geological samples,” Rose said. “In addition, the lab will promote collaborations among our University faculty, other research institutions and industry.”
Four undergraduate students and one graduate student work with Rose as lab assistants, receiving hands-on research experience.
Rose was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. before she came to A&M-Corpus Christi.
“The focus of my research has been radioactive and stable isotope geochemistry,” she said. “I have studied methane fluxes in the Arctic Ocean, seafloor depressions on the Chatham Rise, New Zealand, and the behavior of medically-derived iodine-131 in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.”
Rose earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Marine Sciences at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York.
The University received funding from the National Science Foundation and the City of Corpus Christi’s Business and Job Development Corp. to set up and equip the lab.
For more information about the Isotope Core Lab, click here.