New members in the group!

16.1.2019
Lately the Ecosystem processes group has increased by two new post docs. For introduction, they were asked to answer a few questions:

Pille Mänd

I am Pille Mänd, post-doc researcher from Estonia, University of Tartu.

What are you interested in?

I am interested in responses of plant physiology to changing environment. My main interest concerns forests and how trees respond to changes in water availability, what are the mechanisms behind those responses and what kind of trade-off effects determine the water-use efficiency, nitrogen-use efficiency and carbon production. My current focus is on sink and source driven processes in plant physiology that affect leaf gas exchange, including volatile carbon and nitrogen compound emissions from leaves.

What have you been working on?

My studies have concerned the acclimation mechanisms of plant photochemistry to differences in light, temperature and drought. I have used the remotely‐sensed vegetation indices and leaf fluorescence for estimating canopy and leaf light use efficiency. My PhD thesis was: "Light use capacity and carbon and nitrogen budget of plants: remote assessment and physiological determinants". Our colleague Albert Porcar-Castell was my PhD opponent back then. As such most of my previous scientific activity has been connected with leaf light use efficiency and carbon and nitrogen budget of trees. However, recently I have been expanding my scope a bit in collaboration with an European experimental climate change research community (ClimMani) and studied also the resiliance and resistance of primary production of grasslands to drought and participated in developing a standardized phytometer for disentangling the climatic and edaphic conditions of very different experimental sites, using also grassland species.

What will you concentrate on now?

In Helsinki I will be studying the effect of soil water availability, atmospheric humidity, tree water relations and leaf osmotic potential on VOC and NOx emissions from leaf canopy in collaboration and guidance of Jaana Bäck and Teemu Hölttä.   I will be analysing the already existing datasets of VOC emission and tree water status from Hyytiälä and also will be conducting field measurements in FAHM experimental site, Estonia, where atmospheric humidity is artificially raised in an aspen and birch plantation. My post doc project is focused on water conditions of environment and water status of trees because future climate scenarios predict more humidity for northern latitudes and it is largely unknown, how those changes will affect the emission of reactive carbon and nitrogen compounds from trees.  We also aim to get a glimpse into the mechanisms driving the differences in gas emissions, trying to deviate between the sink and source driven variations in VOC and NOx emissions from tree shoots.

Besides science, what do you like to do?

Sometimes I go hiking, sometimes I spend my time making science-theater for school-kids, but most of my spare time is spent with my family of three kids (which makes solving logistic puzzles my main hobby).

 

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Lukas Kohl

I am a biogeochemist and environmental chemist. I am originally from Vienna (Austria), and have spent the last 6 ½ years in Newfoundland and Toronto (Canada). I have a fairly broad background, having worked at Departments of Ecology, Earth Sciences, and Chemical Engineering.

What are you interested in?

I use the tools of analytical chemistry to understand the world around us and solve important problems. More specifically, I am interested in ecosystem processes and how the shape the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients around us. I am enticed by learning how microorganisms and plants shape their environment -  one molecule at a time, thus shaping ours as well. I am also interested in how pollutants are produced, transported, and degraded in the environment. Much of my work is based on stable isotope analysis and organic geochemistry.

What have you been working on?

Quite a few different things. I studied how nutrients influence microbial processes during plant litter decomposition, investigated how climate shapes soil formation of centuries, searched for the source of methane in ultra-basic, reducing groundwaters (pH>11, eH -500 mV) at Mars analogue sites, and tested how long wildfire-derived pollutants are retained in house dust.

What will you concentrate on now?

I recently started as a post-doc in Mari Pihlatie’s Forest Methane and Nitrous Oxide Cycle research group. We currently work to produce an estimate for the tree methane emissions of boreal zone. My work within this project will focus on distinguishing between different sources of methane (microbial methane produced in soils and released through trees, aerobic methane production within trees) and in understanding the biochemistry of aerobic methane production.

Besides science, what do you like to do?

I make, listen, and dance to music. Moving from Toronto to Helsinki, I am amazed how easy it is to access nature here, and I try to spend as much time outside as possible. And I  just started to learn cross-country skiing.