Office: 210 Kleberg Center
Microbial Community Composition and Activity along a
Forest Harvest Gradient: A Study of Nitrogen Cycle Processes
My Ph.D. research lies at the interface of soil biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, and forest management and is aimed at understanding the impact of common forest management practices on soil microbial composition as well as functionality in regards to nitrogen (N) cycle processes. Forest ecosystems in the USA have functioned as strong carbon (C) sinks in recent decades, and southern pine forests represent a major component of this C sink. In addition, these southeastern pine forests account for ≥40% of the annual softwood production and are critical components of the regional economy. Despite the ecological and economic importance of southeastern pine forest ecosystems, little is known regarding the potential effects of forest management techniques on soil community structure and function in regards to the N cycle. Microbial communities are integral components of the biogeochemistry, fertility, and structure of forest soils, and management practices that modify the microbial environment could jeopardize the long-term sustainability and productivity of forestlands. It is my goal to analyze the soil microbial community composition (i.e., archaea, bacteria, and fungi) as well as functional N cycle genes (i.e., amoA, nirS, nirK, nosZ) in response to different levels of forest harvest. I plan to link the community structure and functionality to nitrification and denitrification potentials. My research will be conducted at one of the US Forest Service Long-Term Soil Productivity Sites in Davy Crockett National Forest in eastern Texas.
B.S. Biology, Texas State University, 2012
Ph.D. Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, 2017
Recent Honors and Awards
2017 Outstanding Ph.D. Student of the Year, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University
2016 Best Oral Presentation, Houston Regional Ecology and Evolution Symposium
2016 Best Oral Presentation, 53rd Annual Soil Survey and Land Resource Workshop
2016 George Bush Presidential Library Foundation Graduate Student Travel Grant
2015 Robert Luxmoore Student Travel Award, Soil Science Society of America
2014 McMillan-Ward Fellowship, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University
2013 Graduate Merit Fellowship, Office of Graduate Studies, Texas A&M University
2013 Graduate Excellence Fellowship, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University
2012 NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates, Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University
Zhou Y, Mushinski RM, Hyodo A, Wu XB, Boutton TW. 2017. Vegetation change alters soil profile δ15N values at the landscape scale. Soil Biology and Biochemistry (in press).
Mushinski RM, Gentry T, Zhou Y, Boutton TW. Bacterial metataxonomic profile and putative functional behavior associated with C and N cycle processes remain altered for decades after forest harvest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 119: 184-193.
Mushinski RM, Gentry TJ, Dorosky RJ, Boutton TW. 2017. Forest harvest intensity and soil depth alter inorganic nitrogen pool sizes and ammonia oxidizer community composition. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 112: 216-227.
Mushinski RM, Boutton TW, Scott DA. 2017. Decadal-scale changes in forest soil carbon and nitrogen storage are influenced by organic matter removal during timber harvest. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 122: 846-862.
Arias-Ugarte R, Devarajan D, Mushinski RM, Hudnall TW. 2016. Antimony(V) cations for the selective catalytic transformation of aldehydes into symmetric ethers, α, β-unsaturated aldehydes, and 1, 3, 5-trioxanes. Dalton Transactions 45: 11150-11161.
Dorsey CL, Mushinski RM, Hudnall TW. 2014. Metal-free stabilization of monomeric antimony (I): A carbene-supported stibinidiene. Chemistry-A European Journal 20: 8914-8917.
Johnson DW, Yum JH, Hudnall TW, Mushinski RM, Bielawski CW, Roberts JC, Wang WE, Banerjee SK, Harris HR. 2013. Characterization of ALD beryllium oxide as a potential high-k gate dielectric for low-leakage AlGaN/GaN MOSHEMTs. Journal of Electronic Materials 43: 151-154.
Mushinski RM, Squires BM, Sincerbox KA, Hudnall TW. 2012. Amino-acrylamido carbenes: Modulating carbene reactivity via decoration with an α,β – unsaturated carbonyl moiety. Organometallics 31: 4862−4870.
Yum JH, Shin HS, Hill R, Oh J, Lee HD, Mushinski RM, Hudnall TW, Bielawski CW, Banerjee SK, Loh WY, Wang WE, Kirsch P. 2012. A study of capping layers for sulfur monolayer doping on III-V junctions. Applied Physics Letters 101: 253514 (2012); doi: 10.1063/1.4772641.
Mushinski RM, Zhou Y, Gentry TJ, Boutton TW. 2017. The relative abundance of predicted genes associated with ammonia-oxidation, nitrate reduction, and biomass decomposition in mineral soil are altered by intensive timber harvest. Abstracts, Annual Meeting of the American Geophysical Union 2017: B14B-03.
Zhou Y, Mushinski RM, Hyodo A, Wu XB, Boutton TW. 2017. Vegetation change alters soil profile δ15N values at the landscape scale in a subtropical savanna. Abstracts, Annual Meeting of the American Geophysical Union 2017: B51G-1890.
Tolleson DR, Boutton TW, Walker J, Mushinski R, Zhou Y, Casola C. 2017. Near infrared spectroscopy for the prediction of rangeland soil characteristics. Abstracts, Society for Range Management Annual Meeting 2017: 56.
Mushinski RM, Boutton TW, Gentry TJ. 2016. Ammonia oxidizing archaea are the predominant nitrifiers in disturbed and undisturbed southern pine forests. Abstracts, Annual Meeting of the American Geophysical Union 2016: B12B-03.
Boutton TW, Mushinski RM, Gentry TJ. 2016. Pine forest harvest leads to decade-scale alterations in soil fungal communities. Abstracts, Annual Meeting of the American Geophysical Union 2016: B13D-0647.
Mushinski RM, Gentry TJ, Boutton TW. 2016. Forest harvest leads to decade-scale alterations in pine forest soil fungal dynamics. Abstracts, Houston Regional Ecology and Evolution Symposium 2016.
Mushinski RM, Gentry TJ, Boutton TW. 2016. Decade-scale influences of organic matter removal on pine forest soil fungal dynamics. Abstracts, 17th Annual Ecological Integration Symposium 2016: T47.
Mushinski RM, Scott DA, Boutton TW. 2016. Decadal-scale changes in forest soil carbon and nitrogen storage are influenced by organic matter removal associated with timber harvest in the western Gulf Coastal Plain. 53rd Annual Soil Survey and Land Resource Workshop 2016.
Mushinski RM, Boutton TW, Gentry TJ. 2015. Bacterial and archaeal ammonia oxidizers are reduced by increasing timber harvest intensity in surface and subsurface soils of the western Gulf Coastal Plain. 7th Annual Argonne Soil Metagenomics Meeting 2015: II-24.
Mushinski RM, Boutton TW. 2015. Nitrifying community and N-cycle activity are reduced by increasing forest harvest intensity in surface and subsurface soils in the western Gulf Coastal Plain. Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting 2015: 93694.
Boutton TW, Foote JA, Mushinski RM, Scott DA. 2015. Soil C and N storage and microbial biomass responses to forest management in southern pine forests. Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting 2015: 92214.
Ahmed I, Karim A, Irvin-Smith N, Boutton TW, Mushinski RM, Strom KB, Ma F, Zhang C. 2013. Monitoring soil organic carbon loss from erosion using stable isotopes. Soil Carbon Sequestration Conference, Reykjavik, Iceland.
Mushinski RM. 2012. Quantification of fungal colonization and biomass: a comparative study between the interaction of different Aspergillus flavus oxyliping-deficient mutants and lox5-3 mutant maize. Undergraduate Research Symposium, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
Mushinski RM, Hudnall TW. 2012. Synthesis and reactivity studies of a novel persistent amino-amido carbene. Abstracts, American Chemical Society National Meeting 2012: 831.
Hudnall TW, Mushinski RM, Squires BM. 2012. Synthesis and reactivity studies of novel Janus-type biscarbenes comprised of N-heterocyclic and carbodicarbenes. Abstracts, American Chemical Society National Meeting 2012: 58.