Spotlight: Bonnie Chang

Postdoctoral Researcher

BonnieBonnie joined JISAO in November 2013 as one of the three early career scientists who have been awarded JISAO Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in 2013. Bonnie is a chemical oceanographer whose work has spanned many facets of the marine nitrogen cycle. Here at JISAO, she is working with John Bullister (NOAA-PMEL), Rolf Sonnerup (JISAO), and Paul Quay (UW-Oceanography) studying the origins of nitrous oxide in the Atlantic Ocean using natural abundance stable isotopes. She is also interested in nitrogen fixation and denitrification in vast stretches of anoxic water located off of the west coast of Mexico, Peru and the Arabian Sea and examining the effect of sedimentary nitrogen cycling on the isotopic composition of marine nitrate.

Bonnie has long been interested in chemistry but it was during an NSF-Research Experience for Undergraduates with Bill Ullman at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies in 2000 that she realized that it was possible to combine her interest in chemistry with her appreciation of the sea. So after graduating the University of Virginia with a degree in Chemistry in 2001, Bonnie went to work in Hans Paerl’s lab at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences. It was there that she had the opportunity to learn many techniques applicable to marine sciences from the lab and field. In addition to weekly trips to sample the nearby Neuse River and Pamlico Sound, she was part of field trips to the St. Johns River and Lakeland in Florida, as well as to the hypersaline lakes of San Salvador, Bahamas.

Bonnie working on a boatAfter that, Bonnie decided to apply to graduate school in Oceanography, which brought her to the University of Washington for the first time in 2002, working with Al Devol in the School of Oceanography. She has been on numerous cruises, which have taken her as far as the Arctic and the tropics in both hemispheres, as well as no further away than Puget Sound and the coast of Oregon. After growing a giant avocado tree in her office, Bonnie graduated UW in 2010 and went on to accept a position as the Harry Hess Fellow in the Geosciences Department at Princeton University working with Bess Ward. During her time at Princeton, Bonnie became involved in the Prison Teaching Initiative at Mercer County Community College. Jill Knapp in Astrophysics at Princeton had long organized and directed teaching college level math classes at several of the prisons in New Jersey, and it was she who gave Bonnie the opportunity, together with Bror Jonsson, to develop an environmental science class, which they taught for four semesters. After spending three years at Princeton, Bonnie returned to UW in November of 2013.

Bonnie is delighted to be back in the Pacific Northwest. When she is not in the lab or in the field she likes to sail (both cruising and racing), hike, play badminton, and cook dinners with friends.