Kathleen Brannen-Donnelly is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. She is the recipient of an NSF Graduate Fellowship and her dissertation focuses on experimental investigations of microbial controls on organic carbon cycling in cave streams in east Tennessee. Brannen-Donnelly’s cross-disciplinary research is very relevant to understanding a heretofore poorly understood part of the global carbon cycle: namely organic matter transformations in the perpetual darkness of the deep subsurface. Her research is directed by Annette Summers Engel, associate professor in EPS.
In 2014, Kathleen Brannen-Donnelly received a prestigious Karst Studies Doctoral Scholarship ($14K) from the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias. She also was invited to participate in a short course on “Microbially-driven facilitation systems in environmental biotechnology” in Breccia, Italy. The short course was funded by the European Union – USA Working Group on Biotechnology for the Environment and only 24 students (12 from the EU and 12 from the USA) were invited to participate. Prior to 2014, Brannen-Donnelly had participated in the “Workshop on organic matter characterization using spectrographic techniques” at the University of Granada, in Spain. These conferences are indicative of the high level of international interest and cooperation involved in developing a better understanding of global carbon cycle.