About me

In kindergarten, I was given the Science Award at Chee Dodge Elementary School in Ya'at'teeh, New Mexico (located on the Navajo Nation). My mother picked me up from my classroom. As soon as I saw my mom I asked her, "What is science?" We still laugh about my naivety. Later, my mother explained that in the Navajo language, scientist is "na'ałkałi" or someone who investigates.

 

Therefore, I am na'ałkałi.

As a postdoc at the Salish Sea Research Center I am pursuing my interests in qPCR as a tool to quantify dinoflagellates and fish in surface ocean environments.

As a biogeochemist, I have investigated the speciation and distribution of carbon, iron, and sulfur in minerals and particles collected from aqueous subsurface and near-surface systems.

I previously served as the First Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. I used microscopy, spectroscopy, and electron microscopy techniques to describe the chemical and structural composition of elemental sulfur and organic compounds produced by microbe-mineral interactions in a subsurface system. 

The research I did as a Ph.D. candidate involved characterization of metals and sulfur intimately associated with organic compounds in marine hydrothermal vents particles. By combining XANES data and a metagenomic dataset for sulfur-cycling genes, we were able to characterize both the solid-state sulfur chemistry and microbial activity at the Von Damm Hydrothermal System. 

My Master’s project took me to the Tierra Amarilla anticline, near San Ysidro, New Mexico, a geologic feature in northern New Mexico that is a consequence of plate tectonic activity. The anticline feeds travertine mounds that are actively forming as groundwater “erupts” along fault systems that are acting as conduits. Based on 16S rRNA, we detected marine and freshwater FeOB (Crossey et al., 2016).

The rising sun on Bellingham Bay
The rising sun on Bellingham Bay

Thayne Yazzie drives the SSRC research vessel through Squalicum Harbor into Bellingham Bay.

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Catching Hooligans on the Nooksack River
Catching Hooligans on the Nooksack River

Image by Rachael Mallon

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Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico
Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico

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The rising sun on Bellingham Bay
The rising sun on Bellingham Bay

Thayne Yazzie drives the SSRC research vessel through Squalicum Harbor into Bellingham Bay.

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Education

2011-2017

University of Minnesota

Ph.D., Biogeology

2008-2011

University of New Mexico

M.S., Biogeochemistry

2004-2008

University of New Mexico

B.S., Biology

Awards, Scholarships and Grants

  • Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship 2017 American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)

  • Lighting the Pathway to Faculty Careers for Natives in STEM (LTP) Scholar 2017

  • The Pennsylvania State University College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
    Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship 2017

  • University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellow 2016

  • University of Minnesota Department of Earth Sciences Sam Goldich Footsteps Award 2015

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow 2011

  • Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship 2008

  • Alliance for Minority Participation 2007

  • Ronald E. McNair Scholar 2006