Becky Young

Becky Young

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Interests
  • Grants
  • Advising
  • Courses Taught
  • Outreach

Title Geography and Soils Lecturer
Address 607 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
68583-0996
Phone 402-472-7432
FAX 402-472-2946
E-mail ryoung@unl.edu

Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Young currently serves as a lecturer for the Great Plains Field Pedology course (NRES 477/877) and the Elements of Physical Geography (GEOG 155) course, through the School of Natural Resources. Dr. Young also serves as a Museum Educator at the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall, teaching the Fossil Features Gallery Program to LPS 3rd graders and the Rocks & Minerals Gallery Program to LPS 5th graders.

Dr. Young received her doctorate in Natural Resource Sciences - Soil Science from UNL in December 2015, advised by Mark Kuzila; her Master's degree in Natural Resource Sciences from UNL in August 2011, advised by Paul Hanson; and her Bachelor's in Geography from UW-Platteville in August 2009, advised by J. Elmo Rawling, III and Rich Waugh.

In her free time, Dr. Young enjoys traveling, camping, and exploring the outdoors with her husband, as well as reading, cooking, crafting, and gardening.

 

Selected Presentations

Phosphorus loading potential of agricultural soils in the United States
  • Presentation Type: Dissertation Defense
  • Date: 11/20/2015
  • Abstract:

    Phosphorus (P) is one of the leading causes of surface water quality decline in the United States, leading to algal blooms and hypoxia in lakes and streams. Decreasing conservation funds dictate that agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, maximizes its effectiveness and efficiency in implementing practices to address P management and runoff on agricultural lands. Additional information on P behavior in soil is needed to improve P management plans to reduce pollution risk at the watershed, farm, and field scales. This research focuses on the development of total soil P release models, to be included into assessment and management tools to better identify agricultural soils that pose the greatest threat to surface water if eroded, and to improve existing nutrient loss models.

    Soil P sorption behaviors and relationships with other soil properties were investigated on 313 agricultural surface soils from across the U.S. Different soil grouping schemes were investigated when analyzing and modeling soil P sorption behaviors at the national-level. Three large watershed areas with known P issues were also investigated to compare watershed-specific models to overall national-level models.

    Overall results showed that, (a) oxalate extractable and Mehlich-3 extractable P tests are the most appropriate soil P tests for estimating total P release and P adsorption in most soils, (b) total P release prediction models improve when soils are grouped based on their calcium carbonate content and degree of weathering or modeled at a large watershed level, than at a general national-scale, (c) the majority of statistically significant and reliable total P release prediction models include clay and either oxalate or Mehlich-3 extractable Al, (d) potential risk models can differ greatly within a given area or watershed, depending on the employed modeling scheme (i.e. area-specific vs. national-level), and that (d) with further research and refinement, the relationships and models developed in these studies have the potential of improving current P Indices and assessment tools, and subsequent management recommendations and practices.

Phosphorus Desorption Characteristics and Relationships of U.S. Soils
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 11/3/2014
  • Abstract: Eutrophication and the contaminating of surface waters with phosphorus (P) is a major environmental issue throughout the United States. In many cases, sediment attributed to runoff and erosion from agricultural lands has been noted as a source of the P degrading waters. However, in order to improve P management at the watershed and farm and field scales, more information is needed on the behavior of P in soil. Thus, the objective of this research is to evaluate P sorption and desorption for a range of soils in the U.S. to develop better estimates of their potential to contribute P to surface waters. Key aspects to this study during the first year have revolved around the development of desorption curves and their relationships to the physical characteristics of the soils. The double-point anion exchange resin extraction method was used to measure desorption on surface horizons from 300 of the most common agricultural soils in the U.S., and the preliminary results have been compared to the clay content, carbon content, calcium carbonate content, pH, acid ammonium oxalate extractible aluminum and iron contents, Mehlich-3 P, and oxalate P characteristics of these soils. This presentation will summarize these results, discuss the correlations between total P fixation capacity and other soil properties, and summarize the development of an initial set of P-behavior interpretive groups of soils.
  • Full Citation: “Phosphorus Desorption Characteristics and Relationships of U.S. Soils.” Young, R.A., Williams, C.O., Robotham, M., Kuzila, M., West, L., Smith, C. Oral Presentation at the ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meeting, Long Beach, CA, November 2014.
Phosphorus Desorption Characteristics and Relationships of U.S. Soils
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 10/22/2014
  • Abstract: Eutrophication and the contaminating of surface waters with phosphorus (P), continues to be a major environmental issue throughout the United States. In many cases, sediment attributed to runoff and erosion from agricultural lands has been noted as a source of the P degrading waters. However, in order to improve P management at the watershed and farm and field scales, more information is needed on the behavior of P in soil to better identify areas that are at highest risk to deliver excess P to surface waters. Thus, the objective of this research is to evaluate P sorption and desorption for a range of soils in the U.S. to develop better estimates of their potential to contribute P to surface waters, and the data from this study will also be used to improve soil, water, and nutrient movement models, such as APEX. Key aspects to this study have revolved around the development of desorption curves and their relationships to the physical characteristics of the soils. The double-point anion exchange resin extraction method was used to measure desorption on surface horizons from 297 of the most common agricultural soils in the U.S., and the desorption results have been compared to the clay content, carbon content, calcium carbonate content, pH, acid ammonium oxalate extractible aluminum and iron contents, Mehlich-3 P, and oxalate P characteristics of these soils. This presentation will summarize these results, discuss the correlations between total P fixation capacity and other soil properties, and summarize the development of an initial set of P-behavior interpretive groups of soils.
  • Full Citation: “Phosphorus Loading Potential of U.S. Soils.” Young, R.A., Williams, C.O., Robotham, M., Kuzila, M., West, L., Smith, C. Oral Presentation at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting and Exposition, Vancouver, BC, Canada, October 2014.
Phosphorus Desorption Characteristics and Relationships of U.S. Soils - Preliminary Results
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 4/25/2014
  • Abstract: Eutrophication and the contaminating of surface waters with P is a major environmental issue throughout the United States. In many cases, sediment attributed to runoff and erosion from agricultural lands has been noted as a source of the P degrading waters. However, in order to improve P management at the watershed and farm and field scales, more information is needed on the behavior of P in soil. Thus, the objective of this research is to evaluate P sorption and desorption for a range of soils in the U.S. to develop better estimates of their potential to contribute P to surface waters. Key aspects to this study during the first year have revolved around the development of desorption curves and their relationships to the physical characteristics of the soils. The double-point anion exchange resin extraction method was used to measure desorption on surface horizons from 300 of the most common agricultural soils in the U.S., and the preliminary results have been compared to the clay content, organic carbon content (OC), calcium carbonate (CaCO3) content, pH, acid ammonium oxalate extractible aluminum plus ½ iron (Al+1/2Fe) content, Mehlich-3 P, and oxalate P characteristics of these soils. This presentation will summarize these preliminary results, discuss the correlations between total P fixation capacity and other soil properties, and summarize the development of an initial set of P-behavior interpretive groups of soils.
  • Full Citation: “Phosphorus Desorption Characteristics and Relationships of U.S. Soils – Preliminary Results.” Young, R.A., Robotham, M., Williams, C.O., Kuzila, M., West, L., Smith, C. Oral Presentation at the Geological Society of America North-Central Meeting, Lincoln, NE, April 2014.
Phosphorus Desorption Characteristics and Relationships of U.S. Soils - Preliminary Results
  • Presentation Type: Poster Presentation
  • Date: 11/5/2013
  • Abstract: Eutrophication and the contaminating of surface waters with P is a major environmental issue throughout the United States. In many cases, sediment attributed to runoff and erosion from agricultural lands has been noted as a source of the P degrading waters. However, in order to improve P management at the watershed and farm and field scales, more information is needed on the behavior of P in soil. Thus, the objective of this research is to evaluate P sorption and desorption for a range of soils in the U.S. to develop better estimates of their potential to contribute P to surface waters. Key aspects to this study during the first year have revolved around the development of desorption curves and their relationships to the physical characteristics of the soils. The double-point anion exchange resin extraction method was used to measure desorption on surface horizons from 300 of the most common agricultural soils in the U.S., and the preliminary results have been compared to the clay content, organic carbon content (OC), calcium carbonate (CaCO3) content, pH, acid ammonium oxalate extractible aluminum plus ½ iron (Al+1/2Fe) content, Mehlich-3 P, and oxalate P characteristics of these soils. This presentation will summarize these preliminary results, discuss the correlations between total P fixation capacity and other soil properties, and summarize the development of an initial set of P-behavior interpretive groups of soils.
  • Full Citation: “Phosphorus Desorption Characteristics and Relationships of U.S. Soils – Preliminary Results.” Young, R.A., Robotham, M., Williams, C.O., Kuzila, M., West, L., Smith, C. Poster Presentation at the ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meeting, Tampa, FL, November 2013.
Late Holocene History of Dune Activity Along the Elkhorn River in Northeastern Nebraska
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 6/2/2012
  • Abstract:
  • Full Citation: “Late Holocene History of Dune Activity Along the Elkhorn River in Northeastern Nebraska.” Puta, R.A. 2012 North Central Regional Cooperative Soil Survey Conference, Lincoln, NE, June 2012
Late Holocene History of Dune Activity Along the Elkhorn River in Northeastern Nebraska
  • Presentation Type: Thesis Defense
  • Date: 7/7/2011
  • Abstract:

    The Nebraska Sand Hills have been an important study area for dune activation and the nature of prehistoric drought events in the Great Plains. However, little has been done to understand the impact of these droughts to smaller dune fields along the eastern margin of the Great Plains. This study focuses on the Stanton dune field which is found about 145 km east of the Sand Hills along the southern edge of the Elkhorn River valley in northeastern Nebraska. With a wetter and slightly cooler climate regime than that of the Nebraska Sand Hills and most other central Great Plains dunes, the Stanton dunes could provide valuable insight into the extent of large-scale dune activation and the nature of regional drought events. Twenty-four optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages from the Stanton dunes reveal several activation periods that cluster into several distinct groups: less than 120 years ago (n=2), around 410-630 years ago (n = 7), around 1000 years ago (n = 2), and around 3,800 to 5,800 years ago (n = 6). The two younger clusters do not correspond to major dune activation events in the Nebraska Sand Hills, while both of the older periods chronologically overlap with the activation of dunes in the Nebraska Sand Hills and other major central Great Plains dune fields. Optical ages in the Stanton dune field suggest that megadroughts reach far beyond the eastern edge of the Nebraska Sand Hills. Geochemical evidence indicates that the Stanton dunes and the underlying alluvium are similar to the sand found in the Nebraska Sand Hills. The two older dune formation events from the Stanton dunes may be related to drought-induced changes in sediment supply in the Elkhorn River which drains a portion of the Nebraska Sand Hills. Thus, the activation events of the Stanton dunes may have been driven by a combination of drought and changes in sediment supply.

Late Holocene History of Dune Activity Along the Elkhorn River in Northeastern Nebraska
  • Presentation Type: Poster Presentation
  • Date: 11/1/2010
  • Abstract: The Nebraska Sand Hills have been an important study area for dune activation and the nature of drought events in the Great Plains for the past four decades. However, little has been done to understand the impact of these droughts to smaller dune fields along the eastern margin of the Great Plains. This study focuses on the Stanton dune field, found to the east of the Sand Hills along the southern banks of the Elkhorn River near the town of Stanton in northeastern Nebraska. With a wetter and slightly cooler climate regime than that of the Nebraska Sand Hills and most of the Great Plains dunes, the study of the Stanton dunes could provide valuable insight into the extent of large-scale dune activation. In addition, this study could determine whether there is a climatic threshold for dune activation along the eastern margin of the Great Plains. Sixteen preliminary optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages from the Stanton dunes reveal several activation periods that cluster into three distinct groups: 400-500 years ago (n = 5), around 800 years ago (n = 2), and around 4,000 years ago (n = 2). The first set of ages are significantly younger than the last major dune activation of the Nebraska Sand Hills, while the following two sets of ages correlate with the activation of the major dune fields in the western Great Plains. Regional megadroughts throughout the Great Plains, correlating with the latter two age sets, may have increased sediment supply from the Sand Hills to the Elkhorn River, and subsequently to the Stanton dune field. Preliminary age estimates in the Stanton dune field suggests that megadroughts reach far beyond the eastern edge of the Nebraska Sand Hills. Whether these events were driven by drought, changes in sediment supply, or a combination is yet to be determined.
  • Full Citation: “Late Holocene History of Dune Activity Along the Elkhorn River in Northeastern Nebraska.” Puta, R.A. Poster Presentation at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, November 2010
Laser Diffraction Particle Size Analysis of Little Lake, Oregon
  • Presentation Type: Poster Presentation
  • Date: 4/2/2009
  • Abstract: Paleolimnology is the study of lake sediments and the significant paleoenvironmental records preserved in them. Examining these sediments and organic remains in them gives us a better understanding of how vegetation, climate and forest-fire systems respond to changes similar in scale to those predicted for the near future. Although these studies are common, the linkage between these systems and landscape evolution is less understood. This project used a 16 meter core from a previously studied lake to test the relationship between changes in median particle-size and other paleoenvironmental proxy. Little Lake is located in western Oregon, in the Coastal Range forests between the Pacific Ocean coast and the Cascade Mountains at 44°10'03” N, 123°35'01”W. Age control for the core was derived from previously published age-depth models, three AMS radiocarbon ages and the Mazama tephra. Particle-size analysis was performed every ten centimeters using a Malvern Mastersizer 2000E laser diffraction particle-size analyzer after pretreatment for organic matter. In general, median grain-size coarsens upward but there are periods when there is little change or the variance changes. The following means (m) and standard deviations (sd) are reported in microns and the description of variance (low, moderate and high) is relative to this core only. Between ~30.0 and 23.5 ka BP sediment is fine with low variability (m= 5.6; sd=0.37). Between ~23.5 and 16.0 ka BP sediment is also fine with slightly more variability (m=5.8; sd=0.48). Between ~16.0 and 11.0 ka BP median grain-size increases from 6.0-9.0 microns with moderate variability (m=7.0; sd=0.95). Between ~11.0 and 9.0 ka BP median grain-size increases from 8.6-14.0 microns with high variability (m=10.5; sd=2.3). Between ~9.0 and 5.0 ka BP median grain size is slightly coarser with high variability (m=12.8; sd=2.0). Between ~5.0 and 2.0 ka BP median grain-size changes little but the variance decreases (m=12.1; sd=0.90) Between ~2000-1000 ka BP median grain-size increases from 15-21 microns with the most variability (m=16.9; sd=2.6). Median grain-size decreases after ~1000 ka BP from 12-8.5 microns with more moderate variability (m=9.5; sd=1.4). Some of these periods correlate well with previously published periods of climatic, vegetation and forest fire frequency change.
  • Full Citation: “Laser Diffraction Particle Size Analysis of Little Lake, Oregon.” Puta, R.A., Rawling, J.E. III, Long, C. Poster Presentation at the Geological Society of America North-Central Meeting, Rockford, IL, March 2009

Educational Background

  • BS - University of Wisconsin-Platteville (2009)
  • MS - University of Nebraska- Lincoln (2011)

Awards

Professional Organizations

Notable Websites

Areas of Interest

  • Geomorphology
  • Pedology
  • Soil Science
  • Physical Geography

Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

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