The funds would be used to finance field travel, materials needed for DNA extraction and sequencing, and for geochemical analyses.
Lee will travel to eastern Pennsylvania this spring or summer to conduct field research. Groundwater containing no methane (control wells), biogenic methane, and thermogenic methane will be targeted based on previous studies. Because samples must be processed quickly after collection, her vehicle will double as a "mobile laboratory", where water will be processed for DNA and isotopic analyses.
Once samples are processed and returned to CU Boulder, the DNA will be extracted, quality-checked, and sent off for DNA sequencing. We will use a technology called Illumina MiSeq, which produces around 50,000 sequences per sample. That's a lot of data!
For ten of the most promising samples, methane will be measured using a gas chromatograph, while the 13C/12C carbon isotopes of the methane will be measured using a high-precision duel inlet mass spectrometer.
STRETCH GOAL: If we reach our funding goal, then we will analyze methane concentrations and carbon isotopes of even more samples. With an additional ~$3900, we can analyze ten more samples. This would give us much more confidence in our data and would dramatically increase the study's impact on the scientific community.
All donors will have access to my lab notes, which I will update regularly to keep you all informed. If you donate at least $25, you can request to receive a montage of video 'bloopers' that didn't make the cut for the final video. Folks who donate a minimum of $100 will have their names listed in the acknowledgements section of a publication!