BER-Funded Scientist Receives Presidential Early Career Scientist Award


Dr. Margaret Torn of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was given an “early career scientist award” at a September 9 Forrestal Ceremony that saluted seven exemplary investigators from DOE National Laboratories and collaborating universities. Under Secretary David Garman (representing Secretary Abraham) and Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Director of the Office of Science, presented the awards. Recipients were also recognized for their achievements at the White House by Dr. John Marberger, the President’s Science Advisor. Dr. Torn was specifically recognized for her research on the biogeochemistry and sequestration of carbon in soil. Her results are providing new insights for modeling the carbon cycle and carbon sequestration of terrestrial ecosystems. The unique feature of her research is the use of isotopic carbon and oxygen tracers to identify and understand mechanisms and quantities of carbon transformed from plant material to organic matter storage in soil, which is important information for modeling both the carbon cycle and for determining the fate of excess carbon dioxide from energy emissions. One important finding from the tracer research is that fine roots of pine trees live five times longer than previously thought and the roots decompose slowly, which leads to relatively long residence times of carbon that is sequestered by terrestrial ecosystems. Dr. Torn actively engages other scientists in her field investigations of carbon, and one location of the experiments is the DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site in Oklahoma.