Kelsey Crutchfield-PetersGraduate Student
Department: Graduate Students
Across diverse ecosystems worldwide, rhizospheres (composed of plant roots and their associated microbiome) are known to extend beyond soil horizons and into weathered bedrock. These deep rhizospheres drive water and carbon cycling meters below the base of soil, supporting forest function. Little is known, however, about how these deep rhizospheres drive nutrient cycling at depth. In my dissertation research, I combine stable isotope and other biogeochemical techniques to explore how nitrogen (N), the most limiting nutrient to plant growth in terrestrial ecosystems, is cycled throughout deep rooting profiles in the critical zone, asking: (1) how do the chemical forms and concentrations of biologically available N change year round; (2) what is the source and fate of this N; and (3) to what extent do dominant tree species utilize N stored within weathered bedrock?
Outreach and Projects
Throughout her PhD, Kelsey has contributed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive community within our lab and Integrative Biology. In 2019 she joined the IB DEI Committee and served more than two years to broadly support equity and inclusion efforts in the department. As a co-leader of IB Research Mixer event series, Kelsey and her graduate student colleagues designed and won multiple competitive grants to support a new program aimed at connecting IB undergraduates from historically underrepresented backgrounds in STEM to graduate student mentors in a casual setting where all IB undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs could build community together. She is most passionate about serving equity initiatives connecting students to research opportunities, and further served on the advisory panel for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Pilot Program in the summer of 2022.
Beyond her community work, Kelsey is committed to mentoring students with compassion and meeting each person where they are at. She has mentored students from diverse backgrounds and always seeks to build her mentorship toolbox, participating in workshops such as the NSF BURET mentorship workshop (2021) and other DEI training opportunities. She is committed to continuing self-education and seeks to constantly improve her mentorship. She brings this commitment to her research mentees, but also to the classroom, receiving an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award (2022) for her work.