Investigating aquatic systems

Publication date 15.01.2014

Yue Gao is a member of the Analytical, Environmental and Geochemistry Research Group (AEGC). AEGC focuses on the holistic use of biogeochemical tracers, such as elemental concentrations and isotopic ratios. Gao obtained a Master’s in Science at Dalian University of Technology, China and graduated at the VUB. Gao studies trace metal mobilization in aquatic sediments and focuses on the impact of contaminated sediments on water quality. She obtained a FWO postdoc fellowship for research on biogeochemical processes in sediments. New understanding of those processes was based on 2-D high resolution imaging of dissolved trace metals, sulphide and oxygen at a μm scale, Hg and methylmercury (MMHg) speciation in aquatic systems.

AEGC developed a new diffusive controlled passive sampler for determining organic compound concentrations in sediment pore waters. A subsidiary goal is to better link DGT size-fractionated labile metal fractions with the metal fractions assimilated by phytoplankton. Gao will perform lab experiments where size-fractioned labile fractions assessed via DGT, including gels of various pore-sizes, are compared to simultaneous trace metal assimilations by phytoplankton. Ocean water can reduce the excess CO2 and plankton play a major role here. The VUB wants to invest in a Seaglider, a mini robot submarine. Special VUB sensors, the first and only ones of their kind in the world, will be attached to this robot to carry out the necessary experiments in the open ocean. The VUB Seaglider project is a world first in the fight against the greenhouse gas effect.