Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science

Paula Zermeño

Paula Zermeño

Title: Manager, Carbon, Water and Soils Research Lab, Michigan Technological University
Unit: Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Address: USDA Forest Service
410 MacInnes Dr. Houghton, MI 49931
Phone: (231) 690-2974
E-mail: Contact Paula Zermeño


  • B.A. Geology, Amherst College, Amherst, MA

Current Research

I currently manage the Carbon, Water, and Soils Lab at the Forestry Research Laboratory in Houghton, Michigan. My lab prepares environmental samples for radiocarbon analysis, as a component of the Radiocarbon Collaborative ( We handle a wide spectrum of sample matrices including soils and sediments, dissolved phase organics, gases, and bones. After pretreatment, these samples are converted to graphite through combustion and reduction, and then sent to our partners at Lawrence Livermore National Lab for radiocarbon measurement by accelerator mass spectrometry. The data generated contributes to projects examining climate change effects on the carbon cycle, ecosystem health, and wildlife conservation.

Why This is Important

Radiocarbon (14C) is a unique and naturally occurring environmental tracer that allows researchers to track the flow of C among ecosystem components and estimate the mean residence time of C in these pools. Radiocarbon has applications in nearly all fields of environmental science, and allows unique insight into climate change effects on the terrestrial C cycle. Together with our partners at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry and Michigan Technological University, we strive to develop applications of radiocarbon analysis that benefit a broad spectrum of researchers.


Crowley, BE; Godfrey, LR; Guilderson, TP; Zermeño, P; Koch, PL;, Dominy, NJ. 2012. Potential for accurate and precise radiocarbon ages in deglacial-age lacustrine carbonates. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279(1742): 3597-605.

Buchholz, BA; Sarachine, MJ; Zermeño, P. 2011. Chapter 3: Establishing natural product content with the natural radiocarbon signature. In: Progress in Authentication of Food and Wine, ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 1081. American Chemical Society: Washington, DC. pp. 27–37.

Buchholz, BA; Zermeño, P; Hwang, H-M; Young, TM; Guilderson, TP. 2010. Measuring Sub-micron Size Fractionated Particulate Matter on Aluminum Impactor Disks. Radiocarbon 52(2): 278-285.

Hughen, KA; Southon, JR; Bertrand, CJH; Frantz, B; Zermeño, P. 2005. Cariaco Basin calibration update: revisions to calendar and 14C chronologies for core PL07-58PC” Radiocarbon 46(3): 1161-1187.

Zermeño, P; Kurdyla, DK; Buchholz, BA; Heller, SJ; Kashgarian, M; Frantz, BR. 2004. Prevention and Removal of Elevated Radiocarbon Contamination in the LLNL/CAMS Natural Radiocarbon Sample Preparation Laboratory. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 223-224: 293-297.   


Brown, TA; Guilderson, TP; Zermeño, P. Background corrections for natural 14C measurements at CAMS. 18th International Radiocarbon Conference. Wellington, New Zealand, September 2003.

Scharer, K; Kashgarian, M; Zermeño, P; Kurdyla, D. What are we dating? An evaluation of chemical pretreatment methods for AMS 14C dating of peat. American Geophysical Union, December 2006.