March 2022: Congratulations to Ben on successfully defending his PhD! Dr. Keenan will soon be on his way to Israel to take part in a long awaited research visit to the lab of Hagit Affek at Hebrew University to study oxygen-17 in gastropod shells as an indicator of drought. And a double congrats since Ben’s paper on fecal stanols in modern Central American lake sediments was just published in the Journal of Paleolimnology.

February 2022: Regina’s paper on using C-14 and C-13 to trace methane sources in the oil sands was just published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics! This is one of the first studies to successfully use methane radiocarbon measurements for emissions source apportionment. Two other papers from lab collaborations also recently came out: one on modelling global variability in methane hydrogen isotopes (Transactions of the Royal Society A); and one on n-alkane isotope measurements in the Saint Lawrence estuary (Organic Geochemistry).

Also, Estelle gave an excellent presentation on her work on fatty acid isotope measurements at the NICH Arctic workshop.

December 2021: Great presentations by Wesley, Regina, Ben, Robert, and Aelis at the 2021 AGU Fall Meeting!

We are sad to say goodbye to Wesley, who will shortly be leaving to start a position at KPMG in London, but very excited to hear more about his new career adventure!

July 28 2021: Congrats to Robert Bogue on being awarded the Vanier Fellowship, and to Regina on being awarded the FRQNT PBEEE Quebec-Mexico Fellowship. Two major accomplishments!

June 15 2021: Yunfeng Wang, currently finishing his PhD at U. Tuebingen, will be joining the lab in December as a McGill EPS Wares Postdoctoral Fellow. Congrats Yunfeng!

April 1 2021: Congrats to Ben on his paper Molecular evidence for human population change associated with climate events in the Maya lowlands published in Quaternary Science Reviews. This is one of the first applications of faecal stanols in Mesoamerica, and suggests some really interesting paleo-demographic patterns that are not apparent using traditional archaeological methods. Update: Ben also did excellent interviews with both CBC and Global News.

March 18 2021: Congrats to Regina on her excellent paper Radiocarbon Data Reveal Contrasting Sources for Carbon Fractions in Thermokarst Lakes and Rivers of Eastern Canada (Nunavik, Quebec) published in JGR-Biogeosciences. This is a really nice result of three in-depth seasons of field sampling (plus lots of radiocarbon measurements).

December 20 2020: An exciting new paper was just published in Limnology and Oceanography by our collaborators at INRS on seasonal variability in greenhouse gas emissions from High Arctic permafrost thaw ponds. This is especially exciting because it presents some of the first methane hydrogen isotope measurements performed in our lab.

November 16 2020: Our new preprint on global variability in methane hydrogen isotope measurements from freshwater environments is now available at Biogeosciences. Three undergraduate researcher alumni, Emerald Stratigopoulos, Jenny Park, and Dawson Phan, made important contributions to this work. Update: Now the final peer reviewed paper Geographic variability in freshwater methane hydrogen isotope ratios and its implications for global isotopic source signatures is published.

October 14 2020: Congrats to Robert Bourque (now beginning a PhD at RPI) on his manuscript Changes in terrestrial ecosystems across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary in western Canada inferred from plant wax lipid distributions and isotopic measurements, which was just accepted by Palaeo-cubed. These are the first published compound-specific isotope measurements from our lab, which is also very exciting.

December 2019 to July 2020: We are behind on updates this year, but here are some highlights from the past few months:

– Excellent presentations by Regina, Jenny, and Ben at the AGU Fall Meeting in December 2019; and excellent presentations by Ben, Robert Bourque, and Regina at the (newly virtual) 2020 Goldschmidt Conference in June.

-Congrats to Robert Bogue on passing his qualifying exam!

-Two new postdocs will be joining the lab in the next few months: Wesley Parker was awarded a US NSF Fellowship to work on plant wax isotope paleoclimatology in Central America; and Estelle Allan was awarded an FRQNT Fellowship to study plant wax paleoclimatology in the Labrador Sea. Congrats Estelle and Wesley!

-Our paper Clumped isotopes link older carbon substrates with slower rates of methanogenesis in northern lakes was published in GRL in March.

-A new collaborative lab project (with colleagues at McGill, INRS-ETE, and UdeM) was funded by the FRQNT Team Grants program: The role of soil microbial processes in aquatic greenhouse gas emissions in Eastern Canadian permafrost landscapes. We are looking for two new PhD students for this project.

-The lab was closed for three and a half months due to COVID-19, but we are officially open again!

October 29 2019: Congrats to Ben for being selected as a Green Talent by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research! Ben just finished a two week tour of Germany with a group of other young researchers in sustainability related fields.

October 14 2019: New instruments! We have just installed new Picarro water and nitrous oxide isotope analyzers in the McGill Isotope Biogeochemistry Lab, which are part of the McGill Earth Observation System funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. This joins a Picarro Carbon Isotope Analyzer installed last April (not to mention our trusty Thermo GC-Isolink-IRMS). Lab page coming soon!

September 12 2019: Peter and Mary Kang (McGill Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics) just hosted a very successful workshop, co-sponsored by the Trottier Institute of Science and Public Policy and the Trottier Institute for Sustainable Engineering and Design, focused on Rethinking National Methane Emissions Estimates and Mitigation. The workshop included a well attended public seminar. We have a great selection of speakers and are planning to follow up with  a review paper. Stay tuned!


August 30 2019: Regina and Peter just returned from Fort MacMurray, Alberta, where they were collecting atmospheric samples for radiocarbon measurements of methane to help improve emissions estimates from oil sands extraction and processing. We also saw a lot of bears!

August 14 2019: Regina recently came back from her third sampling campaign in Kuujjuarapik-Whapmagoostui, where she collected more methane, DIC, DOM, POM, and sediment samples for carbon isotope analyses.

July 17 2019: Ben is just back from Guatemala and Mexico, where he was sampling lake sediments for studying spatial variability in stanol concentrations, as well as oxygen-17 compositions of mollusk shells and lake water.

June 10 2019: Robert Bogue is just back from field sampling with the Stix Lab in Costa Rica, collecting tree rings and soil gases from Miravalles Volcano. We are looking forward to using these samples to better understand how trees respond to high carbon dioxide concentrations  near volcanoes.

June 04 2019: Congrats to Robert Bourque on an excellent presentation (Latest Cretaceous Climate Proxies Using Carbon and Hydrogen Isotopes from Plant-wax lipids) at the Canadian Society for Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Meeting.

March 06 2019: Regina is just back from winter field work in Kuujjuarapik-Whapmagoostui collecting dissolved methane, DIC, and DOC from ponds and rivers in the Sasapimakwananisikw River Valley. It was cold, but at least there weren’t any insects! The samples from this campaign will provide interesting insights into seasonal variability in the cycling of old permafrost carbon in these water bodies.

March 05 2019: Congrats to Robert Bogue on his recently accepted paper in Biogeosciences. We are looking forward to more work on using isotopes in tree rings to record uptake of volcanic carbon dioxide.

December 17 2018: Belated congratulations to Ben and Jenny for their excellent presentations at the AGU Fall Meeting in Washington D. C. Ben gave a talk on Using faecal stanols from a tropical lake core to reconstruct human population dynamics in the southwestern Maya Lowlands while Jenny presented a poster on Biogeochemical signatures in coralloid speleothems in basaltic lava tubes.

August 20 2018

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Our paper using plant wax radiocarbon measurements to analyze how ancient Maya land use affected soil carbon dynamics is just our in Nature Geoscience.

Here is a link to a viewable version of the paper. And here are links to excellent articles in the McGill Newsroom, Earther, La Presse, Le Monde, and Ars Technica, a radio interview with CBC, and a blog post I wrote for Nature Ecology and Evolution Community.

August 16 2018: Regina, Ben, and I are just back from Kuujjuarapik-Whapmagoostui in northern Quebec, where we were sampling permafrost thaw lakes for methane and dissolved carbon for radiocarbon analyses. We were joined by Adrian Bass from the University of Glasgow, and we had excellent support from the staff of the Centre d’Etudes Nordiques . Looking forward to getting new data on how old carbon is being mobilized in these very dynamic landscapes.

Peter and Adrian sampling dissolved methane in a thaw pond in the Sasapimakwananisikw River Valley [Photo: B. Keenan]