The management team for the proposed Critical Zone (CZ) Thematic Cluster shares responsibility for successfully completing the tasks outlined in the project, including setting goals, objectives, activities, and milestones for the program, which are incorporated into a shared implementation plan. The initial implementation plan has been developed and is appended to this document. The team is committed to fully engaging with the CZ network and the CZ Hub, and providing access to our CZ Cluster sites as a resource to the extent possible. The project leadership is comprised of senior investigators with a track record of successfully developing and managing large interdisciplinary grants as well as mid- and early-career faculty who are well positioned to take on leadership roles in an interdisciplinary and multi-faceted project.

The project will build on existing successful collaborations and initiate new ones to create a vibrant environment for scientific and educational advancement. 

Holly Michael, PI, University of Delaware. Dr. Michael is a hydrogeologist with expertise in coastal groundwater-surface water interactions, groundwater salinization and variable-density groundwater flow and solute transport modeling and is Interim Director of the Delaware Environmental Institute. As lead PI, she will oversee the project and ensure the successful completion of project components, interactions between researchers, partners, and stakeholders, and integration into a coherent whole. She has experience both successfully leading single-PI and multiple-PI NSF grants, and working as part of large, interdisciplinary teams. She has taken on leadership roles in two NSF-funded EPSCoR Track I projects (co-PI and research lead of the current project), and is well equipped to manage the proposed project. In addition to leading the overall project, Dr. Michael will lead the Hydrology component of the project, taking responsibility for hydrologic and salinity measurements and hydrologic modeling. She will also oversee integration of the hydrology, landscape (ecology and geomorphology), and biogeochemistry groups. Michael will advise a graduate student and co-advise the Hydrology postdoc.

Keryn Gedan, Co-PI, George Washington University. Dr. Gedan is a coastal community ecologist who has been working in coastal systems for 15 years. She has expertise in tidal marsh and mangrove ecosystems, as well as coastal forests. Her current research is centered around understanding the effects of sea level rise and saltwater intrusion on tidal wetlands and coastal uplands. Dr. Gedan is a co-PI of the Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) LTER, where she is lead on three core datasets: marsh SETs, annual marsh plant productivity, and marsh and coastal forest permanent plot vegetation monitoring. She is a co-PI on a USDA grant led by Tully to investigate saltwater intrusion and alternative cropping in coastal agriculture in the Chesapeake. She will serve as co-PI and lead of the Ecology-Geomorphology group. She will supervise and mentor a part-time technician and one graduate student on the project. 

Kate Tully, Co-PI, University of Maryland. Dr. Tully is a biogeochemist and agroecologist with expertise in nutrient cycling in agricultural fields and landscapes. She will serve as co-PI and lead of the Biogeochemistry group. Dr. Tully is the lead PI of a 5-year USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant focusing on saltwater intrusion in coastal agricultural systems in the Chesapeake Bay region and has experience leading teams and managing large projects. Along with Dr. Gedan, she has been working with farmers for the past five years and has established all the necessary relationships with local landowners to undertake the work described in the proposal. Dr. Tully will oversee one graduate student and the Biogeochemistry postdoc at the University of Maryland.

Matt Kirwan, Co-PI, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Dr. Kirwan is a geomorphologist with expertise in how vegetation and sediment transport influence the response of coastal landscapes to sea level rise. Kirwan will be the point-person for work at the Virginia sites, lead efforts to measure soil elevation change and collect drone imagery across sites and contribute to efforts to couple the hydrologic and geomorphic models. He has experience working as part of large, interdisciplinary teams such as the VCR LTER program, of which Gedan and Fagherazzi are also co-PIs. Kirwan will supervise a technician and mentor the Ecology-Geomorphology postdoc.

Sergio Fagherazzi, Co-PI, Boston University. Dr. Fagherazzi is a coastal geomorphologist and hydrologist studying intertidal landscapes. The focus of his research is the evolution of salt marshes and tidal flats under the effect of sea level rise, hurricanes, nutrient enrichment, and sediment starvation. In particular, his approach is based on the complex feedbacks between ecology, hydrology, and geomorphology at the coastline. Dr. Fagherazzi will mentor a graduate student, who will help with hydrological instrumentation and data analysis. They will develop hydrological models to determine the frequency and magnitude of flooding and salinization and their effect on upland vegetation. Finally, they will participate in the development of the coupled geomophology-hydrology-ecology model.

Jeanette Miller, Co-PI, University of Delaware. Miller is Deputy Director of the Delaware Environmental Institute, and will serve as lead of the education, outreach and diversity (EOD) thrusts of the project, and with Dr. Sam Clem, Assistant Director of Delaware Environmental Institute, will carry out the project’s diversity recruitment activities. Miller has more than 20 years experience in large, interdisciplinary, multi-institutional projects in environmental and life science research and education. She has been EOD lead on Delaware’s NSF EPSCoR Track I projects since 2004, and has led EOD thrusts on two NIH INBRE projects.

Yu-Ping Chin, Co-PI, University of Delaware, Dr, Chin is an aquatic chemist with expertise in the chemistry of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and its role in reactions of environmental importance. He has experience with analytical methods used to characterize DOC ranging from spectroscopy and chromatography to mass spectrometry. He also has applied a number of electroanalytical methods toward understanding the interactions between DOC and redox active species. His research has studied DOM and redox species in diverse aquatic systems from wetlands to the Great Lakes and he has extensive experience with the collection and analysis of benthic porewaters that is capable of preserving its redox character. His role in the proposed study is the characterization of redox species both in situ and ex situ by voltammetry as well as the characterization of DOC and SOC composition using spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and chromatography. He will mentor one graduate student for part of the project that will be responsible for these analyses.

Angelia Seyfferth, Co-PI, University of Delaware. Dr. Seyfferth is a soil biogeochemist with expertise in contaminant, nutrient and carbon cycling in flooded environments. She also has extensive experience with advanced spectroscopic techniques including synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy and imaging in the soft and hard X-ray ranges. As a member of the biogeochemistry group, she will lead laboratory flow-through incubation experiments to target fast and slow hydrologic events. She will evaluate C-mineral associations and nutrient associations with redox-sensitive elements in these laboratory experiments and in cores collected from the field during baseline conditions and after fast hydrologic events.

Stephanie Stotts, Co-PI, University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Dr. Stotts is a dendroecologist with expertise in tree and root response to changing environmental conditions. As a member of the ecology group, Stotts will oversee the chronology development and analysis. Located just miles from DNERR, she will also technical expertise as needed. Scotts is currently serving as a section co-lead of an NSF-funded EPSCoR Track I. University of Maryland Eastern Shore was founded in 1886 and is a historically black, public research institution that has grown into a 1,100-acre campus with a mission to serve a diverse student body representing nearly three dozen nations. Stotts will oversee one graduate student and 5 undergraduate students in this project.

Tracy McMullen, University of Delaware.  McMullen serves as the Associate Director of the Delaware Environmental Institute and has over 13 years of research administration and grant management experience. McMullen will serve as the project manager of the CZ-Collaborative.

Sam Clem, University of Delaware. Dr. Clem serves as Assistant Director, Diversity, Education and Outreach, Delaware Environmental Institute. Clem will coordinate undergraduate research programs, and along with Miller, will coordinate diversity recruitment activities.

Rachel McQuiggan, Delaware Geological Survey. Rachel will serve as data coordinator as well as a technician on the hydrology component of the project. She has experience creating databases, dealing with large timeseries, and quality control of datasets. She will 1- help to gather and coordinate field and data collection protocols for the project, 2- Develop a common template for data collection and a database for hosting and sharing data within the project, 3- coordinate datasets that have been collected across the project, and 4- interact with the CZ Hub, for data sharing and archiving.