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Student Spotlight

Ph.D. Student Profile: Richard L. Brereton

Degree: Earth and Environmental Sciences
UNH Water Quality Analysis Laboratory

Research Topic: Exploring nitrogen dynamics in the river network of a tropical watershed, Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico

Advisor: Dr. William McDowell

Richard Brereton

Description of Research

Since arriving at UNH as a PhD student in 2010, Rich has devoted himself to exploring the linkages between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in New Hampshire and Puerto Rico. His dissertation focuses on the nitrogen cycle in a tropical forest watershed in the Luquillo Mountains, particularly the hydrologic and biogeochemical controls on nitrogen export from streams and rivers. In Puerto Rico and elsewhere, the river network (i.e. the river, its tributaries, and its riparian zones) is a crucial point on the landscape where water transports nitrogen that plants and microbes can retain or transform. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for all life but in excess can disrupt aquatic ecosystems and impair water quality. In his studies, Rich seeks to improve our understanding of the ecosystem processes that maintain a watershed’s delicate balance between nitrogen delivery and retention.

Previous Awards and Activities

UNH NRESS Doctoral Research Tuition Waiver recipient, 2014
UNH NRESS Research Grant recipient, 2011
Colorado College Ritt Kellogg Expedition Fund grant recipient, 2007

Selected Presentations and Publications

B.A., Environmental Science, Colorado College, 2008

Professional Positions

UNH Graduate Student Senate, Senator, 2010-2013
University Curriculum and Academic Policy Committee, 2011-2013

Related Links

LinkedIn profile:
NSF Critical Zone Observatory network:
NSF LTER network:
MBL Semester in Environmental Science: