Zhang Lab News

September 2019

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!

Gabby and Calving

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.


August 2019

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.

Zhang Group Summer Interns

May 2019

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!

Five projects will explore sustainability using the Princeton campus as a laboratory

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.



April 2019

Ashley Maloney is accepted to NSF Early Career Chief Scientist Training program!  She will head out to Hawaii in mid June with other talented early career scientists to learn how to lead and organize research cruises as a future chief scientist. 
Ashley Maloney in Hawaii

March 2019

Xinning is awarded a 2019 Simons Foundation Marine Microbiology and Evolution Early Career Fellowship to work on marine nitrogen fixation!

Xinning Zhang

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July 2018

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!


June 2018

Lab group BBQ to welcome summer intern Rei Zhang and Ethan, the newest member of the Darnajoux family. 
Zhang Group June 2018

April 2018

Group members present their work at the Northeastern Geobiology Conference in Woods Hole, MA, enjoy seafood, and the beautiful salt marsh. 

Zhang Group April

March - April 2018

Ashley joined Bess Ward's cruise to the Eastern Tropical North Pacific to filter thousands of liters of seawater!

February 2018

Welcome to new Hess postdoctoral fellow, Ashley Maloney, who joins us from UW-Seattle. Ashley will be exploring lipid H isotopes in marine microbes and in eukaryotic yeasts.

December 2017

Welcome back to Shannon Haynes who returns to Princeton after completing an IODP cruise.

November 2017

Welcome to Jared Wilmoth who joins us from ORNL as a postdoctoral researcher working on methane cycling in wetlands.

October 2017

New skills discovered while pumpkin carving with Ward group members!



October 2017 Prof. Zhang Termite Video

How Termites Use Microbes To Eat Wood

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)