Biological & Environmental Engineering
Soil & Water Lab
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Todd Anderson

Email: tra8@cornell.edu
Phone: 607-255-4992
Office: B62 Riley Robb Hall
Advisor: Todd Walter
Degree Program: PhD
Curriculum Vitae: Curriculum Vitae


Background

I graduated from University of Alaska Southeast in 2002 with a BS in Environmental Science and participated in an undergraduate research project exploring orographic effects on precipitation distribution around Juneau, AK. I graduated from University of Idaho in 2006 with a MS in Environmental Science. My thesis-level research looked at the relation between fault zone permeability and structural setting of hydrothermal systems. I am currently a PhD candidate in Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. My research focuses on denitrification in agroecosystems.

My Current Research Projects and Interests

Denitrification, denitrification modeling, N2O production, nitrogen cycling in agroecosystems, interactions between hydrology and biogeochemical hotspots

Denitrification

Nitrogen (N), particularly nitrate (NO3-), is a critical pollutant in many northeastern US watersheds that is especially detrimental to coastal marine ecosystems. Agricultural land, which receives fertilizers and/or animal manures, is a principal source of N loading to the environment. The most effective NO3- attenuation mechanism is probably microbial denitrification, i.e., the transformation of NO3- into N gases (e.g., NO, N2O, N2). Currently, our estimates of the magnitudes of denitrification rates at landscape scales are “tentative” at best, usually based on large-scale watershed budgets in which denitrification was estimated by difference. One reason that denitrification is hard to quantify is that a large amount of denitrification occurs in disproportionately small parts of the landscape (i.e., hotspots) and over relatively short periods (i.e., hot moments). Denitrification occurs primarily under anaerobic conditions by heterotrophic microbes and is expected to be vigorous in wet soils high in organic carbon. There is good evidence that these conditions correlate strongly with the likelihood of soil saturating, i.e., hydrological sensitivity, thus, by juxtaposing hydrology and biogeochemistry we can elucidate the distribution of denitrification hotspots across the landscape.