Faces of GIAR: Brittany Multer

January 18, 2024


Grant: $500 in Spring 2022

Education level at the time of the grant: Master’s student

Project Description: 
The purpose of my research was to investigate the environmental impacts and carbon capture potential of concrete as an enhanced weathering material in soil. I conducted a column study in which different combinations of soil and concrete were exposed to water. Chemical analysis of the leachate and analysis of soil physical, chemical, and biological properties were completed to understand reactions occurring between the water, concrete, and soil. Results support the conclusion that concrete weathers faster in soil, and these reactions may be capturing atmospheric carbon through the formation of calcite minerals.

How did the grant process or the project itself influence you as a scientist/researcher?
Completing this project made me a better scientist in a multitude of ways. Designing my own experiment improved my critical thinking skills; I have a better understanding now of obstacles I may encounter when performing research and how to plan for them in my experimental designs. Running lab tests gave me hands-on experience and exposed me to different machines and testing methods. Completing statistical analysis not only taught me new software, but increased my understanding of statistics and the power of what statistics can and cannot tell us. 

The Sigma Xi grant process helped me develop my grant writing skills that I know will be invaluable in my future as a researcher. Without the grant from Sigma Xi, my research and all that I learned while conducting my research would not have been possible.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

My advice to future applicants would be to convey clearly the “why, how, and how much” of their project. I think it is important to explain why your project is necessary and fills a gap in the scientific community, and how you plan to carry out your experiment. I also think transparency in your budget and describing how you would use the grant money is vital to a successful application. 

Where are you now? 

After completing my master’s degree, I decided to continue my graduate education. I am currently pursuing my PhD at The Ohio State University in the School of Environment and Natural Resources with a soil science specialization. I am furthering my research on concrete as an enhanced weathering material in soil and am conducting a field experiment to build off my laboratory experiment.

Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at www.sigmaxi.org/giar.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety