Meet Layla Ghazi, a second-year Ph.D. student in Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a concentration in Ocean Ecology and Biogeochemistry. She studies in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and her research is advised by Associate Professor Julie Pett-Ridge.
Growing up in Georgia, at age 16, Layla participated in a unique opportunity to research the synthesis of nanoparticles at the Georgia Tech Research Institute as a high school intern. She joked, "I thought it was so cool. Before I drove, I used a transmission electron microscope." Layla explained this early research experience was integral in her trajectory from studying biogeochemistry at Georgia Tech as an undergrad to making her way to graduate school here at Oregon State. She explained that her arrival at OSU was part perseverance and part serendipitous. It was both her existing academic network and her tenacity that eventually connected her with Julie Pett-Ridge.
Today, Layla, along with a team of researchers, is looking at georespiration. Meaning how much rocks are releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. This might seem like a negligible part of the carbon cycle, but as Layla explained, "Over a geological time scale, it could be really important." More specifically, Layla uses rhenium (a conservative element—not used in biological processes) to trace georespiration. She explained the central question in her research is, "How can we even begin to quantify this georespiratory process?" By tracing rhenium in the sediment of small mountainous rivers, she hopes to begin to answer this question.
Additionally, Layla teaches Soil Science as a GTA. She explained, the experience has at times been humbling, but she enjoys it and exclaimed, "I am becoming a fan of soils!"
Alongside her studying, researching and teaching duties, Layla actively works to build a healthier, more robust community for her fellow grad students as the President of the CEOAS Association of Graduate Students (CAGS). In this position, she wears many hats helping steer CAGS to be a liaison between CEOAS grad students and admin to organizing professional development workshops.