Researchers in the Zhang Lab began their “Building Better Compost” study which involves analyzing the gas and microbial profiles along the composting process. The goal of the study is to inform baseline performance and how it might change by alerting different parameters such as feedstock types and ratios. Stay tuned for results!
Under the guidance of Dr. Jared Wilmoth, Gabby D’Arcangelo ’21 and Calvin Rusley ’20 regularly took feedstock and gas samples along the “compost trail” from when the feedstock first enters the drum, to inside of the drum, and then when it is off-loaded as compost at the end.
Meet the summer interns and their Zhang Group mentors. Left to right: Jared Wilmoth, Gabrielle D'Arcangelo, Louison Sall, Ezra Zimble, Calvin Rusley and Aaron Nguyen. Kneeling: Shannon Haynes and Katja Luxem.
Eunah just passed her generals!
Katja's recently received the Waldbridge Fund Graduate Award to pursue "Stable Isotopes Studies to Evaluate the Biogeochemical Role of Methane Production by Nitrogenase"
Congrats to both!
Building better compost
A team of researchers will work with Princeton’s on-campus composting facility to explore conditions for creating high-quality compost that is high in nutrients and low in greenhouse gas emissions. The facility, known as the Sustainable Composting Research at Princeton (S.C.R.A.P.) Lab, houses a biodigester that converts campus food scraps into nutrient-rich plant food, helping to divert food waste from landfills and reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers. The biodigester consists of a large barrel that rotates to mix air with food waste and a carbon source — such as wood chips or cardboard — to aerobically decompose the materials into compost in just five days.
The team, which will include an undergraduate researcher and be led by Xinning Zhang, assistant professor of geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute, will test various proportions of food waste, carbon inputs and air as well as operating conditions to identify conditions that create compost with superior levels of nutrients while reducing the natural emission of greenhouse gases due to biodegradation of compostable materials. The team will also explore the use of waste cardboard from the campus to replace wood chips.
Xinning is awarded a 2019 Simons Foundation Marine Microbiology and Evolution Early Career Fellowship to work on marine nitrogen fixation!
Eunah Han, 1st year Geosciences grad student, and Ashley Maloney, postdoc, travel to learn how to build and use chemostats in Sebastian Kopf's lab at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Fun science results!
Group members present their work at the Northeastern Geobiology Conference in Woods Hole, MA, enjoy seafood, and the beautiful salt marsh.
March - April 2018
Ashley joined Bess Ward's cruise to the Eastern Tropical North Pacific to filter thousands of liters of seawater!
Welcome back to Shannon Haynes who returns to Princeton after completing an IODP cruise.
Welcome to Jared Wilmoth who joins us from ORNL as a postdoctoral researcher working on methane cycling in wetlands.
New skills discovered while pumpkin carving with Ward group members!
October 2017 Prof. Zhang Termite Video
Microbial Biogeochemist Prof. Xinning Zhang talks with science journalist, Ed Yong, about how microscopic organisms in the digestive tracts of termites help these particular insects digest the indigestible nature of wood. (Video)