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Myrna Simpson

Professor of Environmental Chemistry
Associate Director of the Environmental NMR Centre
Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, UTSC

Molecular biogeochemistry and soil response to climate change

Simpson imageSoil organic matter (SOM) constitutes approximately two-thirds of the terrestrial carbon storage in the world. Soils are both a sink and source for atmospheric and biospheric carbon dioxide and may represent all or part of the elusive “missing carbon sink” that is eluding accurate global carbon accounting.  Despite its critical role in global biogeochemical cycles, the majority of SOM is considered to be “molecularly uncharacterized”.  This is mostly due to the lack of methods that can be used to isolate and identify specific compounds within SOM. 

Our research uses advanced analytical methods to isolate and characterize SOM molecular markers that can be used to determine the source of the SOM and stage of oxidation.  This information will assist in delineating the molecular changes to SOM with global warming.  Furthermore, we are examining the role of labile and recalcitrant carbon in soil biogeochemical cycling. 

To learn more about my research, please visit