Summer Salad Pie

It all started when the Summer Salad Pie recipe made its rounds on social media a while ago… See recipe #1 here:

At our annual lab holiday party where joke gifts are exchanged, one of the “gifts” contained all of the necessary ingredients to make Summer Salad Pie along with a copy of the recipe. It contained lemon jello, tuna salad, olives, tomato sauce, onion and Tabasco sauce, among other ingredients. PhD student Dan Miller was the recipient of this wonderful gift. Today at our end of the semester lab picnic, Dan showed off his cooking skills & brought in a freshly baked summer salad pie. Its taste was described as “an explosion of flavors, and not in a good way”.


Summer Salad Pie – a biogeochemistry experiment gone wrong? Lemon jello, tuna salad, olives, tomato sauce, a cheese crust… what could be more delicious?


Summer salad pie pictured here without the tuna salad topping (note the abundance of olives floating in the tomato sauce and lemon jello mixture). As the summer salad pie sat out in the sun, the lemon jello began to melt making it look even more appetizing…

GDGT Workshop 2014

The UMass Biogeochem lab sports Dutch lab clogs during the nanoSIMS laboratory tour at Utrecht University.

The UMass Biogeochem lab sports Dutch lab clogs during the nanoSIMS laboratory tour at Utrecht University.

Several members of the UMass Biogeochem lab just returned from a fantastic trip to the Netherlands to attend the GDGT 2014 workshop at NIOZ. In addition to a great conference, we enjoyed a private tour of the organic geochemistry and nanoSIMS laboratories at Utrecht University, which were very impressive!

The Biogeochem Lab is headed to NE GSA!

Going to the NE GSA 2014 meeting in Lancaster, PA? Check out the following presentations by the UMass Biogeochem Lab:

A 3.6 Ma Temperature Record from Lake El’gygytgyn, Russia based on Organic Biomarkers by Helen Habicht et al., Session No. 45, Booth# 57, Monday, 24 March 2014: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM.

Reconstructing Lake Pliocene Environmental Change at Lake El’gygytgyn, Arctic Northeast Russia by Ben Keisling et al., Session No. 45, Booth# 58, Monday, 24 March 2014: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM.

Confirmation of the use of FTIR spectroscopy to determine biogenic silica content of Arctic lake sediments: a powerful tool for high-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions by Greg de Wet, Session No. 5, 10:40 AM.

Paleotemperature Reconstructions from Lake El’gygytgyn (Far East Russia) based on Branched GDGTs by Isla Castañeda et al., Session No. 5, Sunday, 23 March 2014: 10:00 AM.


Welcome to the Biogeochemistry Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Geosciences!

Current research in the Biogeochemistry Laboratory spans a number of disciplines and includes projects aimed at understanding the physical and biochemical composition of depositional and diagenetic environments, projects addressing fundamental questions of carbon cycling over large scales of time and space, projects addressing outstanding questions in paleoclimate and paleoceanography, and projects focusing on the development of organic geochemical proxies for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. To learn more about current research click here.

The Biogeochemistry Laboratory currently consists of a ~1700 square foot shared sample preparation and analytical laboratory under the direction of Dr. Steve Petsch and Dr. Isla Castañeda.

Major research equipment includes gas chromatographs (GC), a GC-mass spectrometer (GC-MS), a GC-isotope ratio monitoring mass spectrometer (GC-irMS) and a high performance liquid chromatograph -mass spectrometer (HPLC-MS). To learn more about the instrumentation in the Biogeochemistry laboratory click here.