• Current Projects

    My current research projects focus primarily on modern carbonate mineral precipitation and transformation in microbially-active environments.

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  • Hydrochemistry & Microbial Geochemistry

    I use geochemical data, with knowledge of microbial metabolic redox transformations, to make determinations about bioremediation, bioclogging, and seal integrity during CO2 ­injection in deep aquifers and reservoirs.

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  • Microbial Mineral Attachment & Weathering

    My research has shown that microorganisms, through their metabolic processes, can facilitate mineral weathering in the micro-environment near attachment.

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  • Low Temperature-Dolomite Precipitation

    My research aims to develop new approaches to synthesizing low-temperature dolomite in the lab and to identify key mechanisms of dolomite formation that lead to applications in both modern and ancient carbonate systems.

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Welcome

Dr. Jennifer A. Roberts specializes in hydrochemistry and microbial geochemistry, bridging basic and applied science and focusing on the role of microorganisms on mineral chemistry and weathering as it applies to carbon sequestration, petroleum reservoir diagenesis, paleoclimate, and water quality from the nano- to landscape scales.

Her research program focuses broadly on microbe:mineral interactions and the geological and ecological implications of these interactions in subsurface environments. Her program currently has three separate but interrelated thrusts: hydrochemistry and microbial geochemistry; microbial mineral attachment and weathering; and low temperature-dolomite precipitation.

She is Professor of Geology and current Chair of the Geology Department at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. 

Hydrochemistry and Microbial Geochemistry

Microbial geochemistry is useful for determining the microbe:water:rock interactions in aqueous environments.  I use geochemical data, with working knowledge of microbial metabolic redox transformations of metals and organic compounds, to make determinations about bioremediation potential in aquifers and bioclogging during biostimulation, as well as seal integrity during CO2­ injection in deep aquifers and reservoirs. Much of my research in this area focuses on how microbial surfaces and metabolic processes impact mineral equilibria. These studies are often helpful in modeling the evolution of porosity in a sediment or rock due to preferential dissolution or microbially-driven cementation. 

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Microbial Mineral Attachment and Nutrient-Driven Microbial Silicate Weathering

In subsurface environments, microorganisms commonly inhabit mineral surfaces.  Our previous research has shown that microorganisms, through their metabolic processes, can facilitate mineral weathering in the micro-environment near attachment.  While these microbially-promoted weathering processes can dissolve minerals, such as carbonates and metal-oxides, they can also promote dissolution of primary silicates and formation of secondary clays. Our research has also identified primary silicates as a solid-phase source of nutrients for the attached microbial community, making the previously-considered-inert silicate mineralogy a viable source of nutrients for subsurface microorganisms.

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Low Temperature-Dolomite Precipitation

Dolomite [MgCa(CO3)2] is a common mineral in ancient rocks and is commonly used as a qualitative tool to infer ancient ocean chemistry, climate, and environments. However, Dolomite is uncommon in modern, low-temperature (<50°C) environments, indicating that modern settings differ from those in the geologic past. Use of dolomite to quantify these differences has been hindered by a lack of reliable laboratory synthesis of low-temperature dolomite, leading to a century-old “dolomite-problem.” My research aims to develop new approaches to synthesizing low-temperature dolomite in the lab and to identify key mechanisms of dolomite formation that lead to applications in both modern and ancient carbonate systems.  

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News & Upcoming Events

  • My research on antibiotic resistance genes in the high Arctic, published in 2019 in Environment International, has received coverage in platforms such as The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, Telegraph, and more. I joined a team from Newcastle University (UK) to conduct this study in a remote region on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. 
  • I was interviewed by the Center for Infectious Disease Policy and Research about my study of antibiotic-resistant genes in the soils of the High Arctic. 
  • I was interviewed by CBC News, along with another member from my research team, about our collaborative study of antibiotic resistant genes in the High Arctic. Listen to learn more about the role my soil geochemical analysis played in this study.
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Recent Publications

Understanding drivers of antibiotic resistance genes in High Arctic soil ecosystems

Clare M McCann, Beate Christgen, Jennifer A Roberts, Jian-Qiang Su, Kathryn E Arnold, Neil D Gray, Yong-Guan Zhu, David W Graham

Conceptual Learning Outcomes of Virtual Experiential Learning: Results of Google Earth Exploration in Introductory Geoscience Courses

KS Bitting, MJ McCartney, KR Denning, JA Roberts

Demonstrating the Impact of Classroom Transformation on the Inequality in DFW Rates (“D” or “F” grade or withdraw) for First-Time Freshmen, Females, and Underrepresented Minorities Through a Decadal Study of Introductory Geology Courses

JA Roberts, AN Olcott, NM McLean, GS Baker, A Möller
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