Lia Ossanna, undergraduate researcher wins ASM Fellowship

Lia Ossanna, a senior studying environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Raina Maier’s lab, has won an Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology.

The fellowship supports undergraduate students to perform 10-12 weeks of summer research in a lab of their choice. Awardees also have the opportunity to submit their research for presentation at ASM Microbe 2019. If their abstract are accepted, they can also receive travel funds to attend the Microbe Academy for Professional Development before the meeting.

Ossanna will be investigating nitrogen cycling in waste rock areas that are undergoing revegetation at the Carlota Copper Mine in Miami, Arizona. She will compare amounts of nitrogen present in bare areas that contain nothing but waste rock to areas that the mining company has seeded and started to revegetate.

She said this research is a continuation of her research project in Maier’s lab that has been supported by the UA SRP and the UA Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining. “The University of Arizona has partnered with three active mines, Carlota Copper, Asarco Mission and Resolution Copper, and we’re trying to help these mines collect data about their reclamation and revegetation process,” Ossanna said. “Dr. Maier’s lab is an environmental microbiology lab, and so we’re looking at below ground soil health indicators and not just above ground plant cover, which has traditionally been the metrics used by regulators, because that’s what you see.”

Normally, Ossanna processes samples for all three mines, measuring different indicators like pH, but she wanted to go more in depth for her ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship. She decided to focus on Carlotta Copper mine samples for her fellowship and make this project her Undergraduate Honors thesis.

Ossanna said that even though the process of applying for this fellowship (which included a research plan, a description of her experience and a personal statement) was intense, it was well worth it. This was a very competitive award and Ossanna is excited to be able to participate.

Congratulations to Lia Ossanna on her achievement and research!