Melanie Martinez

 I am an undergraduate researcher working on my honors senior thesis in Earth System Science. My research focuses on the measurement of volatile organic compound emissions from phytoplankton, which can affect atmospheric processes given that VOCs are a diverse group of climate-active gases. I am particularly interested in understanding how VOC emissions vary by phytoplankton type and how the emission profiles change over time, as well as distinguishing the composition of those emissions.


During the first trial of the experiment, I studied clonal cultures of the cyanobacteria Synechococcus and compared the emission profiles of triplicate samples collected on five different days. The preliminary results suggest that the majority of VOCs were emitted within the first few minutes of sparging the cultures and the presence of 2-methyl propene was identified in the first sample set of each culture. Future trials will focus on reducing the risk of any room air contaminants and expanding the types of phytoplankton studied.