Adam Mazzotti is a senior undergraduate student at the University of California-Merced (UC Merced). He is working this summer with post-doctoral researchers in Dr. Peggy O'Day's lab to design and run a set of experiments that will simulate changing environmental conditions for treated sediments.
Dr. O'Day's research group is studying how to treat contaminated sediments to stabilize contaminants such as arsenic and mercury within the sediments, limit their bioaccessibility, and prevent contaminant mobilization. A challenge with this remediation approach is whether the phases of the sequestered contaminant will be stable and resistant to dissolution if the subsurface conditions change. Adam will be assisting with experiments that simulate changes in reduction-oxidation potential and pH. The research group will then use Adam's data to characterize the reaction products and use extraction methods to test how well contaminants have been retained in the treated sediments after they have been subjected to different fluid compositions.
Following a life-long interest in the planetary sciences, Adam enrolled in UC Merced as a natural sciences major. It was in his first year that he met Dr. O'Day and narrowed his studies to Earth Systems Science. He has studied under Dr. O'Day for the past three years and is excited to be working in the lab as a researcher this summer. When he graduates, he plans to continue his studies and obtain a masters degree in Earth Systems Science, either at UC Merced or another school.
Adam has a particular interest in geochemistry. This summer he hopes to broaden his general understanding of chemistry with the knowledge he acquires from his work on the project. He is gaining valuable hands-on experience in the lab and learning analytical methods that are widely used in geochemical research. This project has given him the opportunity to work more closely with a lab group and given him the chance to develop a critical thinking process necessary to approach and solve scientific issues.