PI Dr. Felipe Aburto
Dr. Felipe Aburto is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University (TAMU) and Principal Investigator of the PSB lab. His program in Pedology and Soil Biogeochemistry at TAMU seeks to advance our pedological knowledge and disentangle the complex relationships between land use change and other anthropic stressor in soil forming process and functions. He joined Texas A&M in October of 2021 and also hold an Adjunct Professor appointment at the Department of Territorial Planning and Urban Systems at the Universidad de Concepción since 2022. He graduated as Agriculture Engineer from the Universidad de Chile. He was awarded a Fulbright BIO scholarship to pursue his graduate education in the USA. He obtained his MSc. and Ph.D. in Soil Science and Biogeochemistry at the Universidad de California, Davis. His research interest encompasses a range of topics including studying the effects forest use intensification, degradation and restoration on biogeochemical soil function, soil functional reconstruction, mineral weathering processes across a wide range of ecosystems. His program is also exploring the potential of enhance weathering applications to sequester carbon and as a source of nutrients for plants.
Current PSB TAMU Members
Deepa Khadka (Doctoral Student)
Deepa is a Doctoral student in Soil Sciences at the Soil and Crop Sciences Department at Texas A&M. Deepa is originally from Nepal. She completed her undergrad studies in Forestry at the Agriculture and Forestry University of Nepal. She is a recipient of the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship (2019-2021). She participated in M.Sc. in Sustainable Forest and Nature Management (SUFONAMA) at The University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the University of Gottingen in Germany. Her MSc. research focused on the evaluation of soil health in different land-uses (LUC) i.e., agroforestry and natural forest ecosystems.
Deepa's research focuses on the effect of agriculture intensification on mineral weathering and the use of rock powder in agricultural and forest soils for carbon capture through enhanced weathering and as nutrient amendment.
Here is a picture of Deepa at the Rhein fall at Switzerland.
Alejandro Atenas (Doctoral Student)
Alejandro is a Doctoral student in Soil Sciences at the Soil and Crop Sciences Department at Texas A&M University. Alejandro is originally from Chile, where he completed his bachelor in Plant Biotechnology Sciences and a professional degree as Plant Biotechnology Engineer. He later completed a MSc. in Forest Sciences at a the Universidad of Concepcion. His MSc. research thesis investigate the effect of deciduous forest degradation on soil biogeochemical pools, soil enzymes activities and microbial communities.
His current dissertation research focus on understanding carbon cycling in natural broadleaf and coniferous planted forest using radiocarbon tools and studying carbon incorporation into aggregates into deep soil compartments.
Here is a picture of Alejandro in a Soil Pit near Woodward Oklahoma during the 2022 Regional Soil Judging Contest.
I am a first-generation student and a Texas native. I am finishing my degree in Plant and Soil Sciences at Sam Houston State University (B.S.), where I fell in love with the intricate and abundant world of soils. I recently started a research internship under Dr. Aburto and I will start as Master student in Soil Sciences in the fall of 2023. My research project looks at the changes induced by fire ants invasions in soil biogeochemical nutrient, carbon and water cycling.
I believe that learning more about soil biogeochemistry processes is fundamental for our future on Earth. In my spare time, I am usually in a garden somewhere or any place with lots of cool trees!
I am a recent graduate of Kean University. I am joining Texas A&M University in the fall of 2023 for a Master's in Soil Sciences. I grew up in Cranford, New Jersey, and began my environmental studies in high school at Union County Vocational Technical School in Scotch Plains, where I got involved in a research project focused on aerobic food composting and partnered with Kean University. My undergraduate work at Kean included research on biochar remediation effects on traditional potted plants and hydroponic systems and life cycle analysis on hydroponic farming techniques. Outside of school, I am a lab technician at a geotechnical engineering lab, specializing in conducting tests on soil's physical and chemical properties. My hobbies include playing guitar, hiking, and fitness.
At TAMU, I will be working on studying early soil development in a recently reclaimed and revegetated fly-ash landfill in Chile under the supervision of Dr. Aburto.
Howdy, my name is Amy Crook and I am a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2023. I am an Environmental Geosciences major with a minor in GIS. I am also a second generation Aggie from the great state of Texas. I like soils because they can give us so much information on the environment around us from the past and present. In my past time, I enjoy photography, fishing, and spending time with friends. Following college, I plan to go into environmental consulting or remediation.”
Here’s a picture of me at the top of the Guadalupe Mountains, the highest point in Texas.
Howdy! I’m Thomas Valdes. I am an environmental plant and soil science major at Texas A&M. I was born and raised in Houston and from a young age I was fond of experimenting with growing plants and digging holes. To me there’s nothing quite like putting your hands in soil and running your fingers through leaves. Someday I hope to work on maximizing the efficiency and care taken toward the soils of the world.
Former PSB TAMU Members
- Kasey Andrew (Bioenvironmental Sciences, TAMU)
- Sara Quintanilla (Horticulture Sciences Major)
Current Committee member (co-advised @ TAMU)
- Achla Om Prakas, Program: Ph.D., Degree: Ph.D., Major: Biological and Agriculture Engineering [Role: Member]
- Bismark Osei, Program: MS, Degree: MS, Major: Soil Science [Role: Member]
- Katherine Quiñonez, Program: Ph.D., Degree: Ph.D., Major: Soil Science [Role: Member]
Nicholas Bentley, Program: Ph.D., Degree: Ph.D., Major: Anthropology [Role: Member]
Former Graduates and Postdocs (@UdeC)
Pamela Castillo (Postdoctoral researcher)
Pamela is a geologist from the Universidad de Concepcion and a Dr. of Geology from the Universidad de Chile. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the lithological controls on the biogeochemistry of vineyards, following the continuum from water, soil, plant to the grape. She is currently working as Postdoc in the PCI MPG 190022 project led by Dr. Aburto. In this project she is investigating the biogeochemical alteration and mineralogical changes that occur as result of native forest substitution by pine plantations.
Fernanda Albornoz (Postdoctoral researcher)
Fernanda is a chemist from the Universidad de Santiago. Her doctoral dissertation look into the speciation of arsenic with iron oxides in volcanic soils. In 2020 she obtained a FONDECYT postdoctoral scholarship to work with Dr. Aburto on a project looking into biogeochemical and mineralogical changes across an extreme chrono-sequence in the coastal range of Chile nested in the Earthshape Consortium. She was recently awarded one of the ANID Academic Startup Program grants to join as faculty at the Universidad de la Frontera.
Paula Gatica (Postdoctoral researcher)
Dra. Paula Gatica is a biologist and a Dr. in Forest Sciences from the Universidad de Concepcion. Her work focuses on assessing the efficacy of ecological restoration in forests ecosystems to recover functionality. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Foresta Nativa Initiative. She worked with Dr. Aburto on establishing and evaluating soil ecosystem recovery metrics for sites reforested and ecosystem under restoration activities in southern Chile.
Fabiola Leal (MS. Forest Sciences)
Fabiola is a Natural Resource Conservation Engineer and worked with Dr. Aburto towards her Master degree in Forest Sciences at Universidad de Concepción. Her research look into the effect of forest degradation on litter dynamics and changes in forest litter's mesofauna diversity. She currently works at Foresta Nativa Initiative as research coordinator.
Natalia Aguilera (MS Forest Sciences)
Natalia worked with Dr. Aburto towards her Master degree in Forest Sciences at Universidad de Concepción. Her research project focus on exploring the effect of co-cultivation of tree species with different nutrient acquisition strategies in soil nutrient stoichiometry in post fire soils.
Alejandro Atenas (MS Forest Sciences)
Alejandro is a Plant Biotechnology Engineer and under Dr. Aburto to obtain his Master in Science degree in Forest Sciences at Universidad de Concepción. His master thesis project researched on the effect of forest degradation in soil deep biogeochemical pools , enzyme activity and microbial diversity. He also workes as lab manager at LISAB at UDEC He is currently at TAMU working towards his Ph.D.
Oscar Crovo (MS Forest Sciences)
Oscar is a Natural Resource Conservation Engineer and a MSc. in Forest Sciences from the University of Concepcion. His thesis looked into the alteration on C, N and P cycling as a result of native forest conversion into exotic pine plantations. He is currently working as Foresta Nativa as Technical Coordinator of the Bocamina Project.
Former Graduate Thesis/Dissertation Committee Member
- Antonio Bartolomé Escandon (Dr. in Biological Sciences, University of Concepción) - ECOPHYSIOLOGY OF ROOT SUCKERING OF TWO TEMPERATE RAINFOREST TREES CONTRASTING IN THEIR SHADE TOLERANCE
- Pamela Castillo (Dr. in Geological Sciences, University of Chile) - Biogeochemistry of the Rock-Soil-Water system in four vineyards of central chile (33-36˚S): lithogenic, pedogenic and atrophic influences.
- Javier Ignacio Rivera Briones (MS. In Engineering Sciences, Catholic University of Chile)- PREDICTING SOIL AGGREGATE STABILITY USING READILY AVAILABLE SOIL PROPERTIES AND MACHINE LEARNING TECHNIQUES
- Maria Paz Lagos Avid (Ms. In Engineering Sciences, Catholic University of Chile) - Predicting the particle size distribution of eroded sediment using artificial neural networks
- Camilo Navarro (MS. in Forest Sciences, University of Concepción) - Forest structure characterized by LiDAR allows determining the abundance of cavity nesting birds in mixed Nothofagus forests of Central-South Chile
- Natalia Navarro (MS. in Forest Sciences, University of Concepción) - Water and nutrient addition effects on the growth and gas exchange of Quillaja Saponaria Molina.
Former Undergraduate Thesis Mentees (@UdeC)
- Francisco Salazar (Natural Resource Conservation Engineer)
- Oscar Crovo (Natural Resource Conservation Engineer)
- Francisco Montecino (Natural Resource Conservation Engineer)
- Natalia Aguilera Rojas (Natural Resource Conservation Engineer)
- Santiago Contreras (Natural Resource Conservation Engineer)
- Christian Torres (Forest Engineer)
- Natividad Olmos de Aguilera (Natural Resource Conservation Engineer)
- Camila Chaparro (Natural Resource Conservation Engineer)
- Enzo Alvares Lara (Plant Biotechnology)
We are always looking for highly motivated researchers or students to join our team. Check in the news section for open positions or contact Dr. Aburto directly.