Research Interests:

Ecology, biogeochemistry, and geography in the context of urbanization and global change.

I study the interaction between plants, soils, and biogeochemical cycles in the context of urbanization and global change.  The carbon and nitrogen cycles are focal points of my work. 

 

Carbon represents energy in natural and human systems.  In natural systems, autotrophs (e.g. plants) convert solar energy into carbon-based chemical energy that serves as the base of most food webs.  In human systems, we use ancient stores of carbon-based energy (fossil fuels) to heat buildings, propel our vehicles, and generate the power that fuels our economy.  However, the rapid release of ancient carbon into the atmosphere (largely in the form of carbon dioxide), is causing profound changes to the systems that regulate Earth’s climate.  If we are to ensure a prosperous future for human and natural ecosystems, we will need to understand the consequences of these radical changes to the carbon cycle and develop strategies for mitigation and adaptation.

 

Nitrogen, in its reactive forms, is a key element limiting plant productivity in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.  With the discovery of the Haber process in the early 1900’s, humans have had the ability to create synthetic nitrogen fertilizers.  This discovery fueled a revolution in agricultural production, but has had enormous consequences for the environment.  Nitrogen leaching and runoff from agricultural and residential areas threatens the health of rivers, lakes, and coastal ecosystems. Atmospheric nitrogen pollution from vehicles and power plants exacerbates the problem.  Together, these forms of nitrogen pollution threaten the safety of the water we drink and (as a smog precursor) the air we breath.  We will need a better understanding of nitrogen cycling in rapidly expanding urban ecosystems if we are to manage this pollutant and limit the harm it causes to natural ecosystems and human health. 

Steve M. Raciti

Earth and Environment

Boston University

675 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

Contact Information

Phone: 617-353-8345

Fax: 617-353-8399

E-mail: raciti@bu.edu

Dr. Steve M. Raciti

Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate

Department of Earth and Environment

Boston University

Boston University

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