Dr. M. Helen Habicht, UMBS Analytical Chemist.

The University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) is thrilled to welcome Dr. M. Helen Habicht as its new Analytical Chemist.

This spring, Habicht will assume the helm of the UMBS lab, which uses state-of-the-art equipment to analyze soil, water, and air samples for researchers, students, and public contractors. Nestled at the heart of 11,000 undeveloped acres of Station property, Habicht will operate the only stable isotope lab in the northern lower peninsula.

“After living in the northeast for the past eight years, I am thrilled to be moving home to Michigan and joining the community at UMBS,” says Habicht.

To get to know our new chemist-in-chief, Communications Coordinator Jenny Kalejs asked Habicht a few questions. The full transcript is below.

KALEJS: Can you tell me a bit about your training and career in chemistry up to this point?


Funnily enough, I would not call myself a chemist. All of my degrees are in geoscience! My Bachelor’s is in Geology at Albion College and my MS/PhD in Geosciences at University of Massachusetts Amherst. At UMass, I worked in the Biogeochemistry Lab and my dissertation research focused on utilizing organic biomarkers (molecules preserved in sediments) as proxies to determine how climate has varied in the geologic past. After completing my PhD in 2019, I became the lab manager for the Organic Geochemistry Lab at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. During my time at Lamont, I learned a lot about project development and coordination, instrument operation and maintenance, and how to keep an analytical lab facility running safely and smoothly.

KALEJS: What are you most excited about in this new role?


So many things! I am really excited about the modern ecological and climatic focus of the research. Most of the work I have been involved with has a geologic/paleoclimatic lens, and I am interested in translating my skills to science with a more contemporary perspective. The Analytical Chemistry lab at the Station is stocked with instruments, some of which I have never used before, so I am also looking forward to exploring those and learning new analytical techniques. And, I am excited about my new colleagues. Everyone I have met so far is both deeply kind and passionate about their work and UMBS.

KALEJS: What do you like to do for fun?!


One of my new pandemic hobbies is sewing. I have been making clothing, wall hangings, recycled cutlery pouches, and am working on a quilt! I am all about finding ways to recycle/reuse materials, so I use a lot of old denim and scrap fabrics. In the summertime, I like to garden and share my produce over meals with friends, and I really enjoy spending time on/around the water, swimming, paddling, etc. Whenever I can see water, I feel happy, so having a view of beautiful Douglas Lake from my laboratory will be absolutely amazing. Since I am moving to Northern Michigan, I’m also eager to dust off my downhill skis and make the most of the snowy winters.


More about the equipment and services provided by the UMBS Analytical Lab: https://lsa.umich.edu/umbs/researchers/research-and-data/analytical-services.html