PAOC Spotlights

The Ocean, Dust and a Really, Really Really Clean Lab

Thu June 16th, 2011
Originally from Peru, Gonzalo Carrasco joined Ed Boyle's Trace Metals Lab, just over a year ago. His main interests are the study of trace metals of biogeochemical importance, focusing on their concentration, chemical speciation and isotopic fractionation in water, sediments and biological records, aiming at understanding their biogeochemical cycles. In this video interview he explains how he became interested in the field, his graduate research and what he is working on currently.


In Carrasco's words:

"I was born in Peru, where I obtained a BSc in Pharmacy and Biochemistry at Universidad Catolica Santa Maria, Arequipa, Peru, in 1994, interested in the study of chemistry related to life in general. For my undergraduate thesis, I studied the concentration and distribution of Cr in the waters upstream and downstream from leather tanning factories in the Chili River, in the sediments in farm soils irrigated with that water and in some plants cultivated in those soils."

"This took me into water chemistry and environmental studies and, a few years later, to study chemical oceanography at Old Dominion University, VA,  where I obtained a MSc (2007) and a PhD (2010) in John Donat's trace metal group. There, I learned about chemical speciation of trace metals in controlling their bioavailability and thus, their biogeochemical roles. I worked on several projects that include the Equatorial and South Atlantic, the Western and North Pacific and the Chesapeake Bay, where I studied the chemical speciation of Zn and Cd using electroanalytical techniques. In the Chesapeake Bay, I studied also the benthic fluxes of metals and ligands affecting the chemical speciation of these metals in the water column. I also worked with a colleague from the Engineering Department on a program that would help me out interpret mathematically the raw analytical results I obtained. At the moment, I am working on getting all these projects into publications soon. In 2010 I defended my doctoral dissertation, titled : "Concentration, distribution and chemical speciation of Zn and Cd in the Equatorial and South Atlantic Ocean".

"I came to MIT in June 2010 to work as a Postdoctoral Associate doing some analysis that involved electroanalytical techniques onboard the first American Geotraces cruise, in the North Atlantic, in 2010 and 2011. Now I am working on a project that involves determining concentrations and isotopic fractionation of Pb, Cu, Cd and other metals in water, sediments and coral cores from waters near Kuwait."

"There are many things to learn in Ed's lab, and using them along with what I learned before will help me to get a better idea about the biogeochemical cycles of the metals I study. Also, the potential for interaction with other research groups in EAPS allows for the possibility to do some work in areas not studied before."

You can find more member interviews at the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate MIT TechTV channel here.