Angelica Ares

Mentor: Dr. Thomas Bianchi
College of Liberal Arts and Science
 
"Research to me was always very interesting because of the investigative nature. I love knowing why and how things occur and being curious. Being able to find patterns and later apply them to predict future outcomes is not easy, it can be a long process but the reason that research is so vital is that it can change the way we see and function in the world. It allows scientists to analyze why a certain environment is changing and if it will continue to evolve or it can transform our idea of a disease. Knowledge to me is one of the few qualities we can control and it is ever-growing and ever-lasting. The more we participate, cater, and pay attention to the life experiences that increase it the more we are able to understand ourselves and others. Getting involved in the world of research was an obvious path to increase my knowledge base. I especially am glad to be involved in research that isn't directly correlated to my future career goal because I am furthering my comprehension of a field that I may not get a second opportunity to explore. It's been a wonderful experience."

Major

Biology

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Plant Chemistry

Academic Awards

  • Florida Academic Scholars Award, 2013-Present
  • Dean's List, 2014-2015
  • University Scholars Program 2016

Organizations

  • Epsilon Sigma Alpha

Volunteer

  • Helping Hands Free Clinic (Volunteer)
  • Rural Leap Lab (Research Assistant)
  • HealthStreet (Internship)

Hobbies and Interests

  • Hiking
  • Learning French
  • Writing Poetry
  • Cooking

Research Description

How Oxic Decomposition Impact Organic Carbon Preservation
"Wetlands have the highest carbon density of terrestrial ecosystems, and play a vital role in the carbon cycle as they contribute 15% of the terrestrial organic matter losses to the oceans (Hedges et al. 1997; Stern et al. 2007). Wetland water levels impact this cycle when they alter the preservation of plant-derived organic carbon, because complete water saturation of sediment leads to anoxic decomposition of organic matter. Anoxic decomposition is less energetically efficient than oxic respiration and thus leads to overall higher organic matter preservation (Hulthe et al., 1998; Holden 2005). The wetlands of Big Cypress National Preserve serve as an ideal location to examine the impact of water level on organic carbon preservation. In the 728,000 acres, one-third is estimated to be covered with cypress trees, many of which are found in “cypress domes,” which are circular wetland depressions that show systematic, routine patterning. These wetlands experience high variability in water levels over time and thus organic matter preservation should be impacted by changes in oxygen availability in sediment. Understanding organic carbon preservation in Big Cypress should support larger research questions about the hydrologic and ecological evolution of cypress domes as well as the vegetation in the sampled sites. The organic matter preserved in sedimentary deposits is important as a progenitor of fossil fuels, a recorder of Earth history, and the ultimate source of essentially all atmospheric O2.
 
The working hypothesis of this work is as follows: The preservation of organic carbon in wetland sediments of Big Cypress Swamp, will be greater in wetlands that experience more frequent water inundation than those having more dry periods where oxygen exposure times are greater. To test this hypothesis I will use carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) concentrations and stable isotope ratios in sediments to examine the distribution and preservation of plant-derived organic carbon.
 
Ultimately, the project will aid in further understanding the impacts of wetland water level fluctuations on the evolution and biogeochemical cycling of cypress domes under variable climatic regimes."