- Research Program Mentor
PhD candidate at Princeton University
Biogeochemistry, Chemistry, Ecology, Microbial ecology, Geochemistry, Plant-microbe interactions
BioHi! My name is Christian Gray, and I am from a small town on the Western Slope of Colorado! I am a PhD student at Princeton University in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department, and my research is focused on the ways that plants use symbioses with bacteria and fungi to influence the biogeochemical cycles, such as the carbon and nitrogen cycles. My primary research experiences have been focused on studying how communities of microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) associated with the roots of plants change based on the identity of the plant and the nutrients in the soil in the Panamanian Rainforest, and in the fynbos in South Africa. I majored in chemistry as an undergraduate, and then worked outside of academia as a geochemist for 2 years where my main responsibilities were crafting scientific arguments and improving scientific communication. In general, I like to spend time outside, hiking, and playing tennis or spikeball with my friends. When I'm not spending time outside, I enjoy playing some videogames and boardgames, or doing some pretty elaborate cooking projects! As a first-generation student from rural Colorado, the mentors I had in science and writing were an enormous part of the reason I ended up doing science at the level I do today. Mentorship is a rewarding way for me to help young scientists grow and to have that influence on others.
Influence of Road Salting on Plants
Road salting is a common phenomenon to improve the safety of roads. However, salt is well-known to inhibit the growth of plants at high enough concentrations. With a relatively simple experiment, we can answer the question: does rain or snow that runs off of the road contain high enough salt to harm local plants?
Simple Biogeochemical Cycle
The carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycles are heavily influenced by human influences on the environment. We can design a simple box model to test the what influence factors such as fertilizer production, or sustainable agricultural practices have on these biogeochemical cycle