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Front Range Isotope Day Scheduled Aug. 4 at UW

July 25, 2017
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UW’s Stable Isotope Facility will host the Front Range Isotope Day (FRIDay) Aug. 4 in the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center. (UW Stable Isotope Facility Logo)

Researchers and scientists who deal with isotopes -- be they in rocks, water or soil -- will congregate at the University of Wyoming for the Front Range Isotope Day (FRIDay).

The event, scheduled Friday, Aug. 4, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the UW Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center, is an annual one-day gathering of technical experts and researchers from the Rocky Mountain Front Range. The purpose is to explore and discuss isotope ratio analysis methods and applications, says Craig Cook, director of UW’s Stable Isotope Facility (SIF).

“We really want to highlight, with a little conference like this, the isotopic work happening at UW,” Cook says. “David Williams, UW professor and head of the Department of Botany, proposes we have a common project -- come up with something collaborative as a group, just to see if there is some interest and we can work together on something.”

For nearly three years, UW’s SIF has been the go-to laboratory to analyze National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) soil samples from across the country. Plant samples were added to the lab’s research list last summer.

Besides UW, other universities or organizations with stable isotope facilities that will attend the conference include: Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)-Denver.

“Isotope ratio measurements underlie much advancement in our understanding of how elements and materials move in the environment, what physical and biological processes shape these movements, how the environment is changing and how organisms, including humans, interact with the environment,” Williams says. “The isotope approach is widely applied in studies of ecology, hydrology, geology, agriculture, the atmosphere, human health and archaeology. The approach is now broadly applied in forensic applications.”

This year marks the seventh annual FRIDay, and it will be the second time the conference is hosted by UW’s SIF.

More than 70 participants from universities, government agencies and private industry are expected at this year’s conference. The goals are to build a regional collaborative network of core isotope research facilities; foster new measurement innovations and applications in isotope chemistry; and inspire and develop the next generation of isotope scientists and technical experts.

Cliff Riebe, a UW associate professor of geology and geophysics, will be the keynote speaker. He will present “Re-evaluating the Role of Dust in Mountain Ecosystems: Insights from Tracer Isotopes, Microbial Genomics and Global Databases.”

“For my part, I will be speaking about tracing dust in ecosystems,” Riebe says. “It will fold in some of the information we published in a Nature Communications article earlier this year, plus some new stuff that is currently in review.”

The event will include 10 “lightning talks” or quick discussions by faculty members and students on a variety of isotope subjects. These include:

-- Charles Douthitt, isotope ratio specialist, Thermo Fisher Scientific, “Combustion Interfaces for Multi-Isotope Analysts.”

-- Leslie Fitzpatrick, UW Ph.D. student, “Stable Isotope Investigations of Human Remains from the Red Mountain Burial Site near Evanston, Wyoming: A Glance into the Lives of Chinese Migrants during Westward Expansion.”

-- Michelle Lanzoni, Ph.D. student, University of Oxford, “Waiting for Rain in the High Desert.”

-- Hilary Madinger, UW Ph.D. student, “Comparing Three Measurements of Diel Stream Nitrogen Fixation.”

-- Liz Mandeville, UW postdoctoral research scientist, “Isotopic Signatures of Catostomus Fish Reveal Ecological Context for Interspecific Hybridization.”

-- Charles Nye, UW assistant research scientist, “Stable Isotopes and Aqueous Geochemistry in Geothermal Brines Co-Produced with Hydrocarbons.”

-- Ken Sims, UW professor of geology and geophysics, “On the Measurement and Application of Nontraditional Stable Isotopes at the University of Wyoming High Precision Isotope Laboratory.”

-- Catherine Stewart, research soil scientist, United States Department of-Agricultural (USDA) Research Service, Fort Collins, Colo., “Chasing Cultivar-Specific Microbial Contributions to Deep Soil C Using Pulse 13C Labeling.”

-- Bruce Vaughn, senior professional scientist, University of Colorado-Boulder INSTAAR, “Pilot Study Measuring N2O Mole Fraction, δ15N bulk-N2O, δ15NΑ-N2O, and δ15Nβ-N2O Using Picarro G-5101i Instrument Reveals Analytical Challenges.”

-- Dave Williams, UW professor of botany, “Isotopic Information in Archival Plant Specimens from the University of Wyoming Rocky Mountain Herbarium.”

Poster presentations include:

-- Bryan Maitland, UW, “Evaluating Assimilation and Discrimination of Carbon and Nitrogen in Native Stream Fish -- a Proposed Diet-Switch Experiment.”

-- Sydney Firmin, University of Denver, “The Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Stable Isotopes.”

-- Jennifer Boulton, Picarro Inc., “Isotopic Seawater Analysis Using Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy: Method for Reducing the Effect of Salts on the Measurement.”

 -- Craig Stricker, USGS-Denver, “Natal Origins of Non-Native Walleye in the Upper Colorado River Basin.”

-- Kevin Rozmiarek, USGS-Denver, ”Progress toward Measurement of Hydrogen Isotopic Ratios of Atmospheric Methane at INSTAAR.”

-- William Bowers, UW, “Variation in the Extent of Eco-hydrologic Separation in Mixed Conifer Forest.”

-- Alexis Haskins, USDA-Agricultural Research Service and Colorado State University, “Do Phenotypes Matter? Soil 13C Stabilization of Two Switchgrass Ecotypes.”

-- Abigail Hoffman, UW, “Understanding Spatial Patterns and Sources of Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Using Lichens.”

-- Jiemin Guo, UW, “Landscape Level Variation in the Limitation of Photosynthesis by Stomatal and Mesophyll Conductance in Two Conifer Tree Species in the Central Rocky Mountains, USA.”

-- Jason Mercer, UW, “Groundwater -- Dependent Plants That Doesn’t Use Groundwater.”

-- John Frank, USDA Forest Service, “Integrating Time-Series δ18O and δD Water Vapor Data into Ecohydrological Models.”

-- Bethany Avera, Colorado State University, “Ecosystem Nitrogen Allocation and Retention Following Disturbance in Lodgepole Pine Forests: A 15N Enrichment Study.”

“It allows graduate students to mingle and collaborate on posters,” Kyle Day, the SIP’s laboratory technician, says of the poster presentations. “They can see if they want to work on a project together.”

Cook is hopeful the mingling of technical scientists and administrators will yield a common project the various labs located on the Front Range can work on together.

“Because these labs do such different work, it’s hard to figure out what that project might be,” Cook says. “We’ll get all of the facility directors together. Maybe, we can come up with some centralized project.”


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Chad Baldwin

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