Dr. Maya Almaraz, University of California, Santa Barbara
Our ability to produce nitrogen fertilizer from the air is perhaps the most important invention in modern history, as it has enabled us to grow enough food to support a global population of over 7 billion people. At the same time, the subsequent doubling of nitrogen in the biosphere h]as generated a cascade of environmental consequences that include eutrophication, acid rain, ozone depletion, drinking water contamination, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. My research focuses on the nitrogen cycle and one of its constituent processes – denitrification. Denitrification is a fertilizer loss pathway that removes nitrogen from soils and converts it into either nitric oxide (an air pollutant), nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas) or dinitrogen (an inert gas). I study controls on the ratio and magnitude of these nitrogen gas emissions with the aim of developing tools that might help to mitigate air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production.
Flyer PDF: maya_almaraz_flier.pdf